COPAKE—Soon customers will able to buy meat from chickens, turkeys and rabbits that were born, raised, slaughtered and processed on farms in Copake.
At a special meeting January 23, the Copake Town Board unanimously adopted a local law entitled “Regulations Pertaining to Slaughterhouses,” which permits the on-farm slaughtering and processing of poultry and rabbits under limited circumstances.
The new regulation has been in the works for several months and came about at the request of farmer Robert Kitchen who, along with his wife, Heather, owns and operates Pigasso Farm at 500 Farm Road. They raise a variety of animals for meat, including chickens, pigs, cattle, lambs and turkeys around the holidays. They sell the meat at their onsite farm stand, at a local farmers’ market and to area restaurants.
Mr. Kitchen currently ships his animals to an off-site slaughterhouse for processing. But he told the Town Board he could save thousands of dollars if allowed to build an on-farm facility where he could do the poultry slaughtering himself.
During a public hearing preceding the board vote on the proposed law, area farmer Ejay Eisen said he endorsed the regulation and talked about the “prohibitive” costs associated with farming and how hard it is to turn a profit. Not only would the new law allow farmers to avoid the “astronomical fees” associated with poultry processing offsite, but it will allow local consumers more access to local food. He also extolled the benefits of composted offal to soil enrichment.
Copake resident Diana Wilson said the new law should take into consideration the conditions in which the animals are cared for, “Are they being treated in a humane environment, killed in a humane way?”
Ms. Wilson did not think the setback requirements contained in the law were enough to sufficiently protect abutting property owners and said she was concerned that the processing of animals would pollute water and wells.
Planning Board Chair Marcia Becker read from a letter she sent to the Town Board asking that the locations of water sources and waste water disposal systems for the processing facility be included in the provision for a modified site plan review along with a plan for management of storm water run-off. She also asked the board to “take a hard look” at potential environmental impacts, such as traffic, noise, smell, neighboring property values, the second home real estate market, investments made in the promotion of recreation and tourism and potential housing needs for facility employees.
Both George Beneke and Edgar Masters, who co-chair the town’s Agriculture and Farmland Protection Committee, spoke in favor of the law. Dr. Beneke noting that residents who filled out surveys during the development of the town’s comprehensive plan consistently said they liked farming and what farmers do for the community, including maintaining farmland.
In addressing some of the concerns brought up at the public hearing Town Supervisor Jeff Nayer noted that the disposal of offal, the location of all water systems and the lay of the land are all part of the modified site plan approval process overseen by the Planning Board. He said the amount of water used in the slaughtering/processing of animals is comparable to the amount of water used on dairy farms in the milking clean-up/sterilization process.
Mr. Nayer also said he received a letter from the Town Planning Board stating the new law had been reviewed and was satisfactory. The law had also received County Planning Board approval.
All board members voted in favor of the new law, a copy of which appears in its entirety in the public notice section of the January 30 print issue of The Columbia Paper.
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