Know Your Farmer, Know Your Chicken
An op-ed in the Daily Iowan refutes some arguments against urban chickens, including one I hadn’t heard before:
Bailey was quoted suggesting that urban chickens undermine local economies, saying, “We have a lot of small farmers around here making chickens and eggs available for sale. My fundamental question is: Why aren’t we supporting the regional economy?”
Here is the op-ed’s excellent response:
I would argue that urban chickens would in fact strengthen Iowa’s economy, especially when we consider unique and important businesses such as the McMurry Hatchery in Webster City, known nationally for its collection of rare chicken breeds. Likewise, I highly doubt Bailey would make such an argument when considering whether citizens ought to be allowed to have vegetable gardens.
City residents are also part of the economy, and they shouldn’t have to pass up opportunities to create value for themselves in order to protect people who are already farming. Transactions in which money changes hands aren’t the only economic activity that matters.
In fact, the freedom to raise your own chickens is an important check on the farmers’ power. When customers can build their own chicken coops, farmers aren’t able to overcharge them for eggs or sell lower-quality eggs than what the market demands. If farmers don’t offer acceptable price and quality, customers will walk away and raise chickens themselves.