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Lewis: The park needs a slaughterhouse

Sandy Lewis, center, has filed a complaint in court against the town of Essex over the assessed value of two of the six parcels that make up the Lewis Family Farm there.

Sandy Lewis, center, has filed a complaint in court against the town of Essex over the assessed value of two of the six parcels that make up the Lewis Family Farm there. Photo by Katherine Clark.

RAY BROOK — Essex Farmer Sandy Lewis addressed a group of Adirondack Park Agency commissioners and Sen. Betty Little Oct. 24, and told the group the Adirondacks needs a centralized slaughterhouse for farms such as his to succeed.

At the same time, Lewis said the APA should not be involved in the permitting process to build and operate a slaughterhouse in the Adirondacks. That condition has stymied such an operation from opening, he said.

Currently, farms are allowed to slaughter farm animals for personal use, but are not permitted to sell the meat unless it is processed by a federally licensed slaughterhouse — and none exist inside the Blue Line.

Adirondack farmers also cannot process meat taken from neighboring farms without APA and federal approval, Lewis noted, making it even more difficult to operate in the black.

That means local farmers must absorb the cost of transport if they don’t have the ability to slaughter for their personal consumption, or if they want to sell processed meat commercially. Transporting to a federally licensed slaughterhouse is about a four-hour round trip for most, Lewis said.

“It is a constant financial struggle to accommodate animal transfer to and from the nearest slaughter house,” Lewis said.

Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood agreed, saying because of the cost of transporting animals to slaughterhouses, a lot of farmers in Thurman have downsized their farms and only sustain enough livestock to feed their own families.

“A lot of farmers would go bigger if we had a slaughterhouse close by,” Wood said.

Lewis said farmers in the area do not produce for those outside their households, because they simply cannot afford to.

“We’ve got good farm land, and its important to work with what we’ve got, I would like to see a centrally located processing center,” he said. “Farmers can’t make a living without one.”

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