Despite extensive comment from farmers, MA Farm Bureau, numerous farm organizations and farm supporters, the Haverhill Board of Health is proposing regulations for the keeping of pigs that are unscientific and unsound. Key flaws in the proposed regulations are:
- The proposed regulations require setbacks from roads, property lines, abutters and residences that are far in excess of what is necessary, and would prohibit many farms (particularly smaller ones) from being able to keep pigs. The BOH need look no further than the (at least) eight farms in town which keep pigs to see that such setbacks are excessive. All operate closer to neighbors and roadways than the BOH regulations would allow, yet there has never been a single complaint or problem with pigs in Haverhill.
- All existing farms which do not comply with the proposed requirements (most if not all) would have to come before the board for a variance. This would make them susceptible to the same anti-farming sentiments that prohibited a farmer from putting pigs on his land last year, and which led to these regulations.
- The proposed regulations limit farms to 30 pigs. While few if any farms in the area would keep more than 30 adult pigs, the provision has two problems:
- The 30 pig limit will essentially prohibit farms from raising feeder pigs - young pigs that are raised until a certain age and then sold to other farms to raise. The regulations ignore the fact that up to the age that they are sold, that feeder piglets produce about 1/10th the manure of adult pig - yet the regulations treat them as an adult weighing several hundred pounds
- The regulations should focus on how many pigs the farm and farmers have the capacity to manage. Setting a limit of 30 is simply arbitrary.
Copies of regulations with Farm Bureau's comments can be found at LINK TO REGS WITH COMMENTS. The Farm Bureau letter to the BOH can be found at LINK TO COVER LETTER.
It is critically important that farmers and supporters of local agriculture attend this meeting and speak against these poorly-conceived regulations. The BOH has indicated that these are "near complete". Without strong public opposition, these regulations are likely to pass hurting farmers in Haverhill as well as creating a bad precedent for other towns to follow.
The BOH hearing will be held at 7 pm on May 15 at:
Haverhill City Hall Auditorium
4 Summer St.
Comments can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org However, it will likely take a crowd of people at the hearing to sway the BOH from implementing these regulations.