MASSENA A Massena couple operating a chicken farm on their property has received approval from the town Planning Board to open a USDA-approved slaughterhouse there.
Following a public hearing in which one member of the public, Carol Fenton, spoke, the board voted unanimously to approve the project with the conditions that Cathy A. and Ron G. Smith abide by USDA and DEC regulations and not compost the slaughter houses waste products.
Chairman Vance T. Fleury said he had no problems with the proposal.
The way I see it, theyre going from a simpler operation to a more regulated process, he said.
Mrs. Smith said that they are now allowed to process up to 1,000 chickens a year with no regulations.
The only catch, she said, is they can only sell them at farmers markets or from a roadside stand at their home.
The new slaughterhouse will allow Mr. and Mrs. Smith to sell their product to schools, stores and restaurants, some of which have already expressed an interest in buying them, she said.
One of the main reasons for doing this is so you can move into other markets? Mr. Fleury asked.
Its all about the market, Mr. Smith responded.
The new operation will also allow the Smiths to process up to 20,000 chickens per year, although Mr. Smith said thats considerably more than what theyre looking to do.
I cant imagine us getting anywhere close to that, he said, adding last year they processed approximately 700 chickens.
Ms. Fenton lives on the North Raquette Road in the neighborhood of the Smiths farm, 542 County Route 46.
I dont know much about it, but I would like some answers, she said, inquiring about the environmental impact the slaughterhouse would have, as well as any noise or odor that would be associated with the operation.
Theres no odor, Mrs. Smith said, pointing out that they have been raising and slaughtering chickens at their property without complaint for the past two years.
As for the waste and any environmental impact, Mrs. Smith said USDA regulations require all waste to be removed from their property within 24 hours, something that Mr. Smith said wasnt going to be a problem, as theyll be taking it to Tri-Town Packing for disposal.
Mrs. Smith said Tri-Town Packing has agreed to accept their waste free of charge, as they sell it to another meat processing plant.
If youre going to drum all the waste and deliver it to them, thats a road we can head down, Planning Board member David W. Grant said, offering his support for the proposal.
Once their slaughterhouse is running, Mrs. Smith said she is then going to work on getting it animal welfare approved.
Everything we do is going to be very humane, she said, adding that certification requires them to purchase a stun-knife.
It knocks them out cold, she said. Everyone else just slits their throats. Were very big on being humane.
Once they receive USDA approval, Mrs. Smith said they must then apply for relicensing every two years, as well as pass periodic, unannounced inspections.
You wouldnt believe all the regulations. It just goes on and on and on, she said. Were going to spend a lot of money getting this up to par.