From RON EPSTEIN and JAN ALLEGRETTI
If you are genuinely concerned about the prospect of a slaughterhouse in the Ukiah valley, and have time and energy to devote, please come to our meeting Saturday, December 7, at 3:00 p.m. at the MEC.
As you may know, there’s a very active ongoing effort to build a slaughterhouse in Ukiah. The Economic Development Corporation (EDFC) is spearheading the effort, and we’ve heard that at least one wealthy investor has expressed an interest in financing the facility. We’d like to update you on what we know and what we’ve heard—you’ll find the details below.
Also, we’re planning a meeting of people who have concerns about this effort—those who do not want any slaughterhouse in the Ukiah valley, as well as those who want to put restrictions on its location, size, economic, environmental, public health, and social impacts. If you are one of those people, and have time and energy to contribute over the coming months—or longer—please consider attending. If you can’t attend, please contact us by return email to let us know how you’d like to be involved.
The meeting is scheduled for Saturday, December 7, at 3:00 p.m. at the Mendocino Environmental Center, 116 West Standley Street, in Ukiah. We’ll share the latest info about what’s happening so far, and brainstorm ideas about what steps we can take. At the very least we’ll need to research what impact (economic, environmental, public health, social, etc.) the slaughterhouse would have on our community, bring that information to the community at large, and organize those who have concerns to make sure their voices are heard. If you’re willing to be part of that effort, we need to hear from you. Please understand that this meeting is for those who wish to be actively involved in working on this project. We have an urgent need for leadership and involvement; we’re also in need of persons with legal expertise who can help us explore the legal requirements to build a facility and our legal options for restricting or preventing it. Whatever your skills may be, if you don’t wish to see a slaughterhouse in the Ukiah valley or have serious concerns about the current proposal, and have the interest and ability to work with others who share your views, please let us hear from you.
Here’s what’s happening so far.
- EDFC commissioned a feasibility study, paid for by federal grant money, to develop a proposal to build a slaughterhouse in Mendocino County. The study concluded that the facility should be built in Ukiah to make use of city power and waste treatment services.
- The study is based on a facility that would initially kill 1500 “animal units” per year, or 30 per week. An “animal unit” is defined as 1 cow, 2 hogs, or 3 goats or sheep. Many, including EDFC, expect that the facility would in time expand so that it kills more animals per year or week—there’s no way of knowing how many that would ultimately be.
- EDFC held a public meeting in September to present its proposal and to hear questions and concerns from the community. About 70 people attended the meeting, including ranchers, residents of Ukiah, supporters of the proposal, and people who do not support it.
- EDFC recently posted its responses to questions raised at that meeting. You can view those responses on the EDFC website at http://www.edfc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/EDFC-Meat-Studies-Q-and-A-2013-11.pdf .
- According to EDFC, the next step is to find an entrepreneur who wants to be in the slaughterhouse business, or an investor who wishes to fund it. The feasibility study outlines several options for funding the slaughterhouse, including low-interest federal loans or a coalition of several small investors. The report indicates that several small ranchers have expressed in interest in investing, and EDFC has suggested it may provide financing. And of course, there is the possibility that a single moneyed investor will come forward with an interest in financing the operation.
- It appears that before a facility could be built, it would need approval from the planning commission, and possibly an EIR. We are unclear about the legal issues involved, so we need a qualified person or persons to research them.
- We’ve been told that if the matter comes before the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors or the Ukiah City Council, there are currently enough votes in place to approve the proposal as it stands. We’ve also been told that a very strong outcry from a very large number of residents could possibly sway those votes—but that it would take large numbers of people expressing opposition to do so.
- This is why we feel it’s important to begin organizing now. We believe there are indeed large numbers of people who, for any number of reasons, do not wish to have a slaughterhouse in the Ukiah valley or who are concerned about its nature and scope. If in fact that’s the case, the sooner we make our voices heard, the sooner those who will decide how and whether or not it happens will be made aware of our concerns—and hopefully will realize that a large proportion of their constituency is concerned.
- Equally important is that Ukiah valley residents deserve a complete, accurate picture of what a slaughterhouse would mean to our community. EDFC has not provided that—and is not likely to. It is our opinion that, although EDFC is a public entity charged with working on behalf of the community as a whole, in this matter they have chosen to aggressively promote the proposal to build a slaughterhouse without studying the potential negative impacts on the community, without sincere regard for the concerns of community members who oppose the proposal, and without hearing from knowledgeable persons within the community—including at least one rancher and a former member of the meatpacking industry—who have concerns about the viability of the proposed facility. Therefore, with EDFC presenting a decidedly one-sided perspective on the issue—and using its status to wage a very visible public campaign—there is a need for those of us who have concerns to bring “the other side of the story” to the awareness of the community at large, so that those whose daily lives and homes will be directly impacted by the facility will have a clearer understanding of what that impact might be.
And so, we’d like to ask you to do one or all of 3 things:
1. Stay tuned in to what’s happening on this issue. Watch for updates from EDFC, and for emails and announcements from CARE and CAUS. Stay informed about the facts at hand. Remember that any new type of industry—especially one that has complex economic, environmental, public health, and social impacts—inevitably has negative as well as positive implications. Be sure to examine any and all announcements with a critical eye, so you’ll understand both sides of the issue.
2. Share your views and your concerns with others—friends, neighbors, and certainly with members of the Board of Supervisors and the Ukiah City Council. Please rely on fact-based statements to support your views.
3. If you are genuinely concerned about the prospect of a slaughterhouse in the Ukiah valley, and have time and energy to devote, please come to our meeting Saturday, December 7, at 3:00 p.m. at the MEC. If you can’t come, let us know how you would like to help by replying to this email.
Thank you for your interest and attention.
Ron Epstein, Citizens Against a Ukiah Valley Slaughterhouse (CAUS)
Jan Allegretti, CARE: Compassion for Animals, Respect for the Earth