Recently the Rutland Herald included an article about the Westminster, VT selectboard hearing a request for public support in favor of a state grant application to renovate the former Coastal Seafood building as a slaughterhouse serving southeastern VT and nearby Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
In addition to addressing an underserved portion of the region with animal processing needs, I think the slaughterhouse has brought to the surface public questions about whether we, as a town or community, really want to support local agriculture. An incredibly important link in the farmer-animal-food-consumer cycle is the ability to process animals (to meet the customers’ needs) in a way that is fair to both the producer and the processor, and treats the animals themselves with respect.
I think it’s very exciting that such a group of interested individuals and organizations has been working to bring back the small, small regional slaughterhouse. I don’t know how the selectboard vote turned out Tuesday (March 10), but I do hope significant public support has been shown. Each facility that opens and is able to stay in business is another link in the local food chain, enabling commercial farmers shipping animals weekly, and small direct sale producers to ship annually, quarterly or seasonally. The diversity of farm size and the changing seasonal needs also speak to the importance of keeping our slaughterhouses open and financially viable.
This all seems appropriate, on a day when I’ve just shipped my own pigs to market.