Are “DIY Slaughter Hobbyists” Destroying Your City?
A small but vocal group in Oakland, California thinks so. I beg to differ.
By Kiera Butler
Mother Earth News
Feb. 2, 2012
A few weeks ago, my friend was handed a flier (PDF) at a farmers market in Oakland, California. It’s from a local group called Neighbors Opposed to Backyard Slaughter that wants the City of Oakland to forbid people to raise livestock on their property. Around here, urban farming is a pretty hot issue; a nonprofit called City Slicker Farms has been promoting DIY food production for several years, and author and farmer (and Mother Jones contributor) Novella Carpenter brought the practice into the limelight with her 2009 book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, about her experiences at her Oakland farm.
Now I’m obviously biased on this issue; I’ve written on this site about the experience of raising turkeys for meat in my Berkeley backyard. But when I read through the anti-urban farming arguments put forth on the flier, I couldn’t resist making a rebuttal. Herewith, some sections of the flier, along with my responses. First up:
I called the Oakland Animal Shelter and asked whether it had seen an uptick in livestock (chickens, rabbits, and goats) since the urban farming trend took off around 2005. While the number of chickens at the shelter has gone up in recent years, from 213 in 2009 to 340 in 2010, shelter director Megan Webb attributes that increase to the city’s crackdown on fighting roosters in 2010, when the city confiscated hundreds of roosters. Aside from that, said Webb, “I’ve asked several of my animal control officers and they don’t feel like we have been seeing more livestock-type animals in the field or being impounded in the shelter.”