Not a member? Become one today!
         iBerkshires     Williamstown Chamber     Williams College     Your Government     Land & Housing Debate
Williamstown Gathering Info on Livestock at Request of State Agency
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:14PM / Monday, January 08, 2024
Print | Email  

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — An attempt by the town's health inspector to cooperate with a state agency sparked a minor controversy on social media over the weekend.
On Sunday, a user posted anonymously on the "Williamstown Mass. Info & Issues" Facebook page an image of a form the the health inspector sent to area farms seeking information about the number and types of livestock they keep and acknowledging consent for the town's regular inspections of agricultural operations.
"Since when do we need an application for farm animals, did we get rid of right to farm??" the Facebook user posted. "im not sure if im being pranked or not"
There was no "prank" involved. Nor was there an attempt by Town Hall to take away "freedom" as was posited in one of the 42 comments the post garnered by late Monday afternoon.
On Monday, Town Manager Robert Menicocci explained that the Health Department is both formalizing an existing practice of annual inspections and complying with a request from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
"[MDAR] wants us to go out and do the inspections on their behalf ... but also have a census available," Menicocci said.
"What we've seen in other states is bird flu happens. If a commercial enterprise needed to cull their flock or herd, the state wants to know what else is in the area."
Compiling a census allows the town to provide such information in the event of an emergency, he said.
"If COVID taught us anything, it is that we need to have a good handle on control of viruses and things like that," Menicocci said.
The form from the town, titled "Keeping of Farm Animals Application," is signed by Health Inspector/Animal Inspector Ruth Russell, who late last year took over for longtime inspector Jeffrey Kennedy, including his regular duties of inspecting farms in town.
A member of the town's Agricultural Commission weighed in to the Facebook discussion on Sunday to point out that Russell merely has a "different approach" to the existing practice.
"I know that Jeff [Kennedy] was required to make a comprehensive list of animals [in] his jurisdiction," Averill Cook wrote in reply to another commenter. "From a governing body viewpoint it is very important. Be happy you don't live in England, Denmark, Holland where they have a more comprehensive routine.
"If there is a time where we had a 'Mad Cow' outbreak I believe given the lack of accountability here we would be in trouble to solve the problem. I do like the fact that 'all' cattle need to be tagged and tracked now and I know all are not. other animals I am unsure of and would welcome your suggestions."
More Featured Stories is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Sreet, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384
© 2011 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved