UPDATED: The Whatcom County Council will hold another (and hopefully the last) public hearing to approve and amend that Ag-zoning will allow for the economic activity of Agricultural Packing Facilities and the slaughtering of livestock. This public hearing will be held at 7:00pm, on September 10, 2013 in the County Council Chambers.
It is my sincerest hope that:
- The Council proceeds with a vote to approve for this amendment
- That the public hearing is not two hours of testimony filled with drama stars and urbanites who do not have a dog-in-this-race, other than to stop an activity that they have no real-life experience with.
The amendment to allow a meat-packing facility to be an accessory use in the Whatcom County Ag-Zone has in the last 14 months of its torturous travel through our Council Chambers become a voluminous ordinance with many restrictions. The County Council’s Planning and Development Committee, chaired by Bill Knutzen with members Barbara Brenner and Ken Mann, has worked in numerous changes to the planning commission’s original ordinance that have little to do with the realities of meat-packing, but seem to address the fears and unease of urban residents. The urbanite, drama stars that showed-up at last Tuesday’s council meeting, spouted some facts all mixed-in with their fears, fantasy and concerns that the seasoned livestock farmers of Whatcom County are intent on poisoning our water and polluting our land. The stage was set to portray local farmers to be greedy and disrespectful of the environment, whose intentions were to spray manure (and who knows what else) willy-nilly with no regard to their neighbor’s property; and purposefully permeate the county with evil smells. They brought their vegans with concerns that slaughtering is still done as it was in 1904. They brought their Nooksack friends to talk about being one with nature as if a rancher raising cattle could not possibly comprehend such a feeling.
This contingent of doomsayers was led by Futurewise, a non-profit group in the community, who by their actions here and with other permitting issues, seem to believe that laws are made better by heaping loads of manure (restrictions) on them. They were not interested in creating an amendment that works to preserve or sustain agriculture in Whatcom County. The capper of the evening came when a member of this group got up and stated, “We give-and-give-and-give to these people and it has to stop!” The farmers and ranchers in the chambers were stunned. It is now obvious that the intention of Futurewise folks to be Farm Friends has merely been a well-dressed lie.
It is time to ponder what leaders in the past have said on the subject of how farmers should be treated.
“Our farmers deserve praise, not condemnation; and their efficiency should be cause for gratitude, not something for which they are penalized.” – President John F. Kennedy
“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower
“It will not be doubted that with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance.” – President George Washington Link to more farm quotes
Now ask yourselves who do you support? Those who speak with condemnation of our agricultural community? Or, those who want to create a better link between our farms and local markets. Made up your mind? Now, take a moment and contact your county council person to let them know what you think. Agriculture is of primary importance in Whatcom County and needs you to “Just Show Up!”
~ Lorraine Newman and Kris Halterman