(Note from the Land and Table organizer: I highly respect the role of the Bedford County Ag Board as they are tasked with helping keep agriculture in our community thriving economically. They should be commended for their efforts to promote local food producers and other initiatives that benefit the local farming community (and the community at large). This post has been published in an effort, not to attack the Ag Board but to bring to public awareness their policy and efforts over the last 6 to 8 months (along with the Planning Commission) to make way for industrial-scale animal feedlots in the county. We are making this information available for the sake of public knowledge and continued dialogue. – JF) (Attention: Public hearing concerning zoning regulations for “intensive livestock operations” on June 9th in Bedford) Many of you who are following Bedford County’s plans to open the door for concentrated animal feeding operations (aka: CAFOs) may not realize that this is not a singular issue but rather a long term strategy and policy that the Bedford County Ag Board has openly described in their 2013 Annual Report. In the document they clearly spell out their intentions to make ‘intensive livestock operations‘  a “profit center”. These kind of operations are directed (some would say ‘controlled’) by larger corporations (sometimes trans-national businesses or owned by corporations in China, for example) but they are operated and owned by local farmers who are willing to enter into a contractual growing agreement with the corporation, often competing with other contract growers who are also growing for the corporation in the same region to see who will be paid more for their efforts. But what will the outcome of bringing industrial meat production into the community? See for yourself the present policy and future plans of agriculture in Bedford County to make our county “attractive to companies as an expansion zone”:

Addressing the Potential for Intensive Livestock Operations as a Profit Center for Bedford Agriculture Livestock that can be raised in intensive facilities have the potential for existing farmers to diversify or new ag producers to enter farming. The current zoning ordinance regarding intensive livestock operations treats livestock species differently. The setbacks for poultry and swine are so significant that the Ag Board believes Bedford is presently not attractive to companies as an expansion zone. This is due to the likelihood that there would not be any landowners that have sufficient land to meet Bedford’s stringent setbacks. To address this, the Ag Board has been studying approaches by other localities and working along with the Planning Commission to investigate modifications in the Zoning Ordinance as it relates to Intensive Livestock. The Board believes modifications would increase the likelihood of attracting these industries and thereby position our agricultural producers to have another option for additional income, job generation, diversification and sustainability of our number one industry”
Bedford County is at a crossroads – and the citizens must step into the conversation about the direction our community is headed in.]]>

Land And Table

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