Wolf Pack Meats
Wolf Pack Meats can’t catch a break. With its uncertain financial future on the table (see “On the chopping block,” Oct. 20), the organization has another obstacle to face–– the potential loss of nearby agricultural land.
The packed conference room in the Nevada Department of Agriculture building in Sparks displayed, once again, that WPM—or Nevada’s agricultural community—isn’t going anywhere without a fight.
A 104-acre parcel of land east of McCarran Boulevard, and just south of the WPM facility, is a planned unit development considered for rezoning to adhere to flooding regulations. But with the potential for the land to be sold for future developments such as offices or housing, local farmers and stakeholders are skeptical about the intent of the zoning.
“We have to decide about Wolf Pack Meats. We have to figure out if it’s important to the university,” said Ron Pardini, interim dean and director of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR), and Natural Agricultural Experiment Station (NAES).
Two options are on the table, the first of which would allow WPM to remain in place and have a berm established around it. The other would require WPM to move to another area on the land. Option one appears likely, which would be good news for WPM—for now.
Farmers, ranchers and other citizens are adamant that the rezoning decision would be a means to an end, and that any plans to improve flood protection by development would prove disastrous. Several attendees cited other areas in Northern Nevada where similar plans to develop on agricultural land failed––including Double Diamond and Damonte Ranch. If the land is developed, the permeable soil will be made impermeable, and floodwater will have nowhere to go.
Also, if WPM were to stay, future businesses or homeowners may not tolerate the existence of a slaughterhouse so close to their property.
“Everyone says they want to live near a farm, until they smell it,” said Ann Louhela from NevadaGrown.
A Public Benefits Initiative, written in 2008 by Bob Dickens, voting member of the Flood Project Coordinating Committee, and the late Milton Glick suggests options for repaying university debts by monetizing the Main Station Field Lab and the Agricultural Experiment Station. The land is worth $40 million. When stakeholders were asked if the money would return to the college of agriculture, the response was uncertain. By policy, the Board of Regents needs to allocate the money made from the land back to agriculture. But in the past, the Board has not always followed its own policy.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the university trying to resolve its debt in this crisis that we’re experiencing. But what we’re objecting to is that there is a clear pattern of taking some of the best and most important farmland in this city and turning it into houses and offices. Double Diamond is that way, and look at Kiley Ranch. Wow, it’s a desert now,” said Wendy Baroli from Grow for Me Sustainable Farm.
“It used to be grass land that fed animals. And now it’s a desert because development couldn’t happen. So what we’re asking you to do is just step back from this with the stakeholders and look at how we see agriculture in the state of Nevada.”