Whatcom County is considering allowing slaughterhouses and rendering plants as permitted uses on all agricultural land. These are industrial land uses. In 1997 the county determined that in order to keep agriculture viable it is necessary to maintain a critical mass of 100,000 acres. Since then acreage has been lost to residential development and other non-agricultural uses. There are more people and less livestock in this county today, and local livestock processing is available.
Livestock processing requires an abundant supply of potable water and results in equally large amounts of wastewater. In our state no new water rights certificates are being issued. Farmers rely on exempt wells in the rural areas. This competing use will require new wells and may negatively impact existing wells and farm operations. Livestock harvesting produces blood and offal that can contaminate wells, soil, aquifers, nearby water bodies and air. Dairy and berry operations are existing sources of contamination on ag land. It does not make sense to add a third source. The water and sewer service required by this industry is not available in the rural areas zoned agricultural.
If there is a need for new animal packing house facilities (slaughterhouses) and rendering plants in this county, site them in the industrial zones. Here adequate water and sewer service exist and impacts can be accomodated.