County Council will hold a public hearing on its packinghouse ordinance Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013.
I believe this ordinance will further reduce the number of acres available for growing food and erode the legacy of farming. I believe it allows packinghouses to be built on prime agricultural soils, it does not require a legal water right, it does not protect areas designated Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas designated by Whatcom County, it does not provide adequate buffers to adjacent properties including organic farms, and it does nothing to ensure the humane treatment of animals, or to increase the number of USDA facilities. Meat must be USDA inspected during slaughter and packaging in order to be marketable.
To achieve year-round availability of a fresh, local supply of grass-fed meat, farmers need to be willing to feed hay when grass has stopped growing and to slaughter throughout the year. There is local support from individuals, institutions and vendors for this product, and it will garner a better price. This paradigm shift will help make the buy local, eat local ideal a reality for farmers and consumers.
The vocal minority with support from a council majority may prevail and permanently alter the character of the agricultural zone. Council needs to recognize that the ordinance as it stands does not serve the needs of all local farmers or consumers. It's a land grab in overalls.