The proposal to allow slaughterhouse facilities to operate anywhere on the 88,000 acres of zoned agricultural land in Whatcom County troubles me for several reasons. The first is that the ongoing revisions, permutations and disputes over terminology have made it exceedingly difficult for residents to grasp exactly what is stake. Here are some of the questions this citizen would like to see answered:
1) What is the actual number of animals (cows) currently raised in Whatcom county that are slaughtered annually and how many of them are transported out of area for processing?
2) In the proposal, the facilities could be built anywhere the land is zoned for agriculture, but much of this land lies in critical areas like flood zones, aquifer recharge zones and even shorelines; why not exclude critical areas from the acreage available for building meat processing facilities?
3) Having seen and experienced large scale manure lagoons and consequent water and air pollution, what provisions is the county government putting in place to contain contaminants produced both in holding lots and by the slaughtering and rendering processes?
The issue has lately been framed as a property right issue, and individual property rights are vitally important, but so are clean air and water and quality, locally grown fruits and vegetables.