Sunday, May 4, 2014

Slaughter Houses and Policy

The New York Times had an interesting editorial on slaughter houses awhile back:

Whatcom County Council has been struggling with this issue mightily. The Council recently expanded the areas where slaughterhouses could be located with the idea of allowing small scale slaughterhouses for local meat processing. The process turned rather bumpy and has not yet been entirely resolved two-years-on as there are now appeals and the County Council with a different make-up is considering some adjustments to the rules (whatcomcounty/council/agendabills/ab2014-060b.pdf).  

As an exercise to try to appreciate the job of County Council try to read the ordinance and fully understand all its nuance. The one take-away regarding motivation is that there is only one USDA approved beef slaughter/packing facility north of King County open to the public (Finding of Fact 9)and that facility can only process 2,000 animals. Given Whatcom County's cattle population is 95,000 cattle.

My own following of this process the County has been going through is that in trying to do what should be considered a good thing got really strange fast and turned into a proxy policy wonk battle about Ag land, property rights, animal rights and a host of other afflictions. The County Planning Commission appointed by the Council to try to resolve these types of contentious issues before they get to the council managed to throw gasoline on the fire making the whole thing even more crazy.

The current council seems to be coalescing around a general concept and perhaps the problem will be resolved Tuesday. I wish them well.  

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