HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – “No slaughter in Hackettstown,” and “Slaughterhouses spread diseases” were among some of the signs that protesters held today at the intersection of Route 46 and West Stiger street.
Over a dozen protesters gathered in opposition against the Hackettstown Cooperative Livestock Auction’s proposal to change the use of one of their buildings to a slaughterhouse. The protesters, including Tamala Lester of Barn Yard Sanctuary, expressed concerned about how a slaughterhouse would affect quality of life in Hackettstown.
“This is much bigger than a bunch of vegans not wanting animals slaughtered,” Lester said. “This is something that affects everybody in Hackettstown because anybody that owns a house, their property values could go down. Anybody that lives around it would be subjected to the noises and the smells. And if they decide to do three shifts, and have it be a full blown operation and they will have trucks coming in 24/7.”
The auction does not neighbor any residences. The building where slaughters would happen, known as the poultry house, is separated from the main auction buildings on the other side of West Stiger Street. The poultry house is bordered on two of the other three sides by a wildlife management area and the Warren County Soil Conservation district on the third side. The Livestock Auction is not proposing to construct any new buildings for the slaughterhouse, based on their land use application obtained by WRNJ.
Chairman of the livestock auction Board of Directors, Mike Toretta, said the slaughter house will be for co-op members only.
“Most of our animals come in on a Tuesday, and that’s when they will be going over there. It’s a small area, probably only 25-30 (animals), maybe not even that. People will not smell it. Everything will be contained inside and done according to regulations. Everything will be contained in fridges and freezers, and then taken off-site,” explained Toretta.
Toretta said that animals will be processed humanely in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations. He said inspectors would be on the premises every day that the proposed slaughter house would be open.
Toretta said that a slaughterhouse in Hackettstown would fulfill a need for both consumers and livestock producers – as wait lists at slaughterhouses can stretch out for months, slowing production. He also says consumers report difficulties in finding fresh, locally-raised meat products.
“When the pandemic started, a lot of people came to us and they wanted to buy fresh meat. We don’t have fresh meat. We only have live animals. So we decided we’d have a place where people can come. They can buy their animals and it could be processed here and then be ready to take home to their freezers.”
The Hackettstown Land Use Board is scheduled to consider the auction’s application at their meeting on September 22nd.
As of Tuesday, 4,712 people had signed an online petition to “stop the opening of a slaughterhouse in Hackettstown.” Protesters said they plan to be outside of the market every Tuesday leading up to Land Use Board meeting.