Open letter to all R.G. county commissioners:
After reading in the Valley Courier of the application for a conditional use permit to raise chickens and sell organic eggs by two or three applicants in your county, I offer these observations:
The news article lists 1.75 sq. feet per chicken for the confined area if the chickens are not able to go outside due to inclement weather--which is for much of the year in the Valley. If this is the correct amount of space, it is almost as bad as keeping a chicken in a cage! Less than two square foot per bird is not “free range”, and consumers should avoid buying eggs from this type of operation.
This does not sound like a “sustainable” form of agriculture, since the feed for these chickens is proposed to be trucked into the Valley from out of state! Truly sustainable agriculture seeks to have more local people involved with each family farm raising small numbers of fowl on their own property as well as raising as much of the feed as possible on their own property. The goal is to spread both the impact of farming over a broad landmass of small producers as well as allowing for more local consumption of the food being produced by local neighbors adjacent to municipalities. The applicants have simply proposed another large confined animal operation, and although allegedly “organic”, it is not supportive of good environmental practices by consuming vast amounts of fossil fuels to truck the feed in and the eggs back out of the Valley. Sustainability implies local production for local consumption.
Since I don’t believe government should be involved in controlling the use of land in a free society, I can’t ask the R.G. commissioners to prohibit or control the operation of farmwork. It is up to the consumers in society to vote with their dollar bills to either support or boycott the products of a farm if they don’t believe it is being operated in a humane or sustainable manner. Buy local and direct from a producer whom you know and whose farm you may visit.