Monday, March 2, 2009

hysterical anti-chicken sentiment in Mankato

I laughed this morning as the following two letters to the editor of the Mankato Free Press appeared in my RSS feed. (see prior updates on Mankato, MN, urban chicken discussions). If you've been reading my series on combating urban chicken stereotypes (too much poop, enforcement costs and salmonella fears, so far) you'll know what's coming.

The first letter begins "As a lad growing up on a farm in the 1920s and 1930s, it was my responsibility to clean the hen house and yard on whichever Saturday Dad deemed the proper time. I have not cleaned a chicken house or yard in over 60 years, but the following facts are indelibly etched in my olfactory memories." The writer recalls the stink of said coop and how the heat and humidity of a summer day concentrate that smell of poop and the chickens' molted feathers. I don't mean to disparage this fair writer's memory (of events from at least 70 years ago), but chickens naturally molt in the Fall, so if the owner's got a coop that stinks of excreta and feathers in the summer, you've got an animal abuse issue on your hands, not a chicken issue.

The second letter is in the same vein, although the claims are a bit more outlandish:

Chickens are dirty, they smell and can carry disease and parasites. Chickens attract mice, rats and predators such as fox, skunks and feral cats.

There are some groups that will disregard the rules, either on purpose or through ignorance. They will have larger flocks, maybe improper cages and large slaughtering operations.

Mankato just received regional status; let’s not revert to Mayberry status.

I can just imagine our leaders meeting with officers of some large company considering a move to locate in Mankato. You can tell their top executive, “oh, by the way, you may be living next to a chicken coop and a chicken slaughtering operation.” That will sure impress them.

And then the writer concludes "Folks from St. Peter and other towns should butt out -- this is a Mankato issue."

If I were an officer of a large company considering a move to locate in Mankato, I'd be more concerned about how many other residents harbor the status quo loving NIMBYism as the writers of the above two letters than I would about an urban chicken law on the books (like they've got in New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles...)

Here's hoping saner heads prevail in Mankato.


Bad Wolf said...

I really appreciate your updates on the chicken happenings across the land. You do a splendid and compelling job here.

Here's a great write-up on Urban Chickens and how the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) would affect the owners of city chickens and buyers of pastured eggs. This is a deeply flawed piece of legislation pushed by the huge agribusiness concerns to add another burden upon small-time owners so they will get out and become customers rather than leaches. Everyone who is even thinking about owning a couple chickens needs to know about this and everyone who eats should be opposed.

We have until March 16th to submit a comment to the USDA against it (via the Organic Consumers Association).

Among some of the things that could happen if this passes is the government could come in to confiscate and kill your animals under the pretense of national security (health threat) with zero compensation; and the big producers (Smithfield, Tyson, Hormel, etc) could be the ones in charge of the outsourced database (privacy issues among other things).

Please help make this fiasco and invasion better known by bringing it into the light.


Bad Wolf said...

Actually, to add to the consequences of the NAIS proposal is that if anything happens to the chickens (or horses, goats, cows, etc) such as a death or they are taken off premises at all for any reason (including vet care and fairs), those have to be reported via computer within 24 hours or there is a huge fine that can include jail time.

Here's a bit more on the effects and who is behind it.

KatoChicks said...

I thought of your post from just a while back as soon as I saw these letters in the paper re: standard reasons opponents give for not wanting chickens - the one writer covered most of them. I think our biggest battle here is going to be to get people to realize that there is a HUGE difference between dozens or hundreds or more chickens on a farm and 3-6 backyard hens.

Looking forward to the Mad City Chickens release! We're hoping to be able to do a public screening here in Mankato, but have to try to round up the fee first.

Thanks, Thomas, for updating on things here as well as all the other communities in similar situations around the nation and our neighbors to the north!



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