Hearing’s Officer Denies Use Permit to Hog/Chicken Slaughter Farm .5 Mile South of Ashland
NEWS RELEASE No Commercial Slaughter in an Ashland Neighborhood
From: Don’t Uproot Ashland
Uproot Meats applied to Jackson County for a land use permit to operate a pig/chicken Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) with commercial slaughterhouse on a steep slope above the TID irrigation canal and their neighbors on the edge of Ashland. The application for permit was appealed and a hearing was held at the County Auditorium in Medford on January 7, 2019. Over one hundred opponents presented for the hearing under the banner, “Don’t Uproot Ashland!” Applicant and appellant were given opportunities to present their sides. The hearings officer rendered his final decision on February 19th. We are pleased to report that Hearings Officer Pearce has denied Uproot’s land use application for a commercial slaughter facility on their property above Weisinger’s Winery. Uproot will have the opportunity to appeal to the State Land Use Board of Appeals if they so choose.
Don’t Uproot Ashland is an impassioned group of citizens who care deeply about water quality, air quality, food safety, sustainable farming, public safety, health, and quality of life for all. We will continue to monitor Uproot’s activities to ensure accountability and that rules are followed and enforced. Today we are encouraged that the system and the process is working for its citizens.
On February 19th, Hearings Officer Pearce, assigned by the Jackson County Planning Department, rendered his final decision relative to the tentative approval granted to Uproot Meats in November 2018, to operate a chicken and pig slaughterhouse on a steep 28-acre hillside above Siskiyou Boulevard, on the southeast end of Ashland. The owners bought the land in 2016 with the intention of growing marijuana, but quickly switched to small-scale farming of hogs and chickens. Their application for a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) would allow Uproot Meats to raise and slaughter 45 pigs and up to 20,000 chickens annually.
At a public hearing on January 7, 2019, neighbors and concerned Ashland residents, under the banner “Don’t Uproot Ashland,” offered evidence, legal concerns, and testimony that challenged the project, as proposed. Since then, both sides have had an opportunity to present new evidence and rebut one another’s claims.
Mr. Pearce’s decision yesterday, on behalf of the Jackson County Planning Department, denied the land use permit for the operation of a slaughterhouse.
We are here today to make clear who we are and where we stand.
Our campaign to hold Uproot Meats—and County and State planning officials—accountable includes neighbors, local farmers and businesses, longtime Ashland residents, persons knowledgeable in land management, public health, research, and more. We are strong advocates for small farms. We care deeply about fresh, local, organic, pesticide-free produce. We recognize the compelling need for humanely raised and slaughtered meat.
We understand and support the Right to Farm law. But we also value all of our rights to clean water, clean air, safe food, and quality of life.
What has concerned us are the applicant’s operating choices and ongoing pattern of un-permitted activity, since the inception of Uproot Meats. Taken together, they pose threats, both small and large, real and potential.
- Site location: The proper siting of a CAFO is highly dependent upon local conditions. The traditional land use in the area, distance from neighbors, distance from streams, soil types, and the reputation of the owner should all be considered. Hog farming is a messy business, ill-suited to the 36 percent slope Uproot occupies. Uproot’s slaughterhouse is 199 feet uphill from the TID irrigation canal, and hog pens are only 16 feet from the TID and the nearest neighbor’s property line. Oregon law prohibits any agricultural run-off from entering Oregon waters. It also stipulates that “new confined animal feeding operations should not be located where prevailing winds are likely to carry odors into residential or recreational areas.” A CAFO and slaughterhouse in Uproot’s current location is not compatible.
- Waste management: Uproot has operated for almost two years without a septic system or an approved waste management plan. They have been cited for improper waste disposal by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
- Land mitigation: An earlier action by the DEQ required Uproot to restore the decimated landscape caused by their excessive and un-permitted excavation of the hillside for their failed marijuana grow.
- Other violations: The owners have constructed un-permitted buildings, including a slaughterhouse with an unauthorized residence on the second floor and a chicken house. They do not have a license to slaughter from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. They recently added an unauthorized travel trailer. The county issued a Stop Work Order for unauthorized construction on January 24, 2019.
- Impacts: The potential degradation of TID water and surrounding air quality (including contaminants released by the practice of spraying composted pig manure) are real. Uproot Meats’ ongoing abuse of the easement through two neighbors’ properties, which comes with the Uproot property, is untenable. It was never intended for commercial use.
Our group of concerned citizens stands by our belief that the right to farm does not mean the right to harm. We will continue to monitor Uproot’s activities to ensure accountability and that rules are followed and enforced. Today we are encouraged that the system and the process is working for its citizens.
For more information, please contact Denise Krause, Ph.D., retired Professor, Preventive Medicine/Managing Director, Health Data Analytics.
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