Reject farming Article 3 misinformation — vote no at STM

Posted 1/29/20

To the editor:

According to representatives of a newly formed “farmers alliance” speaking at the January 21 Select Board …

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Reject farming Article 3 misinformation — vote no at STM

Posted

To the editor:

According to representatives of a newly formed “farmers alliance” speaking at the January 21 Select Board meeting, the Animal Site Registry has “no purpose at all.” Although the purpose of the registry has been explained repeatedly, let’s give it one more go:

The purpose of the Animal Site Registry is for Board of Health officials to know on which properties livestock is kept within the Town of Westport so that all such properties can be included in the state’s annual Barn Book Inspection.

There are many livestock-holding properties in town (perhaps hundreds) that have never been included in the state inspection process because town officials are unaware that animals are being kept on these properties, and it is up to the town to inform the state of all residents who keep livestock. The purpose of the site registry is to identify these properties.

The registry is a registry, that is, a person who keeps livestock tells the BOH they keep livestock, and the Board says, “OK, thank you for letting us know.” The BOH is not licensing or permitting the keeping of any animals, other than pigs and equine (something they have been doing for a decade now with no complaints).

Mass. Department of Animal Resource Director Mike Cahill told me the only issue he had with the registry was with the word “registry.” He said, in order to be fully in line with pertinent state regulatory language, it should have been designated a “license.” Yet the BOH, after conferring with representatives from the farming community, purposefully chose “registry” over “license” to signify that it was not in the business of giving permission for the keeping of livestock, but only about trying to identify where livestock was already being kept.

There is no fee to register. Period.

I understand these facts are an anathema to alliance leaders who are all about rallying their “constituency” (as they call the farming community) for the upcoming election cycle with outrage and misinformation. I just hope the many Westporters who know better (a demographic that includes numerous farmers) show up at Special Town Meeting to vote against the proposed amendments to the Right to Farm bylaw.

Please vote “no” on Article 3.

Constance Gee

Westport

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.