New meat processing facility on CSU campus sparks controversy, petition

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Plans to build a new animal handling and meat processing facility at Colorado State University are being met with some opposition from animal rights activists.

The university in March announced plans for the $15 million JBS Global Food Innovation Center in Honor of Gary and Kay Smith. Greeley-based JBS USA has pledged $12.5 toward the project.

Located just south of the existing Animal Sciences Building, the center will include a hands-on meat processing facility, in addition to a kitchen, spaces for developing and packaging food products, and a cafe.

The new facility also will include an educational space designed by world-renowned CSU professor, author and animal welfare expert Temple Grandin.

Putting an animal processing facility on campus has drawn mixed reactions from students.

Becca Bliel is opposed to the building and started a petition on change.org in an effort to try to stop construction of what she calls a "slaughterhouse." As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had more than 60,000 signatures.

“They’re going to be bringing live animals to campus and killing them at a place that’s supposed to be a welcoming and loving community, where generally CSU is very peaceful,” Bliel said.

“CSU tries so hard to be like an environmentally friendly campus. We have a whole building dedicated to sustainability and obviously agriculture isn’t sustainable at all; it’s the number one cause of climate change and many other destructive parts of the environment,” she said.

Joanna Swenson, a student in CSU’s Animal Sciences program, said she thinks the facility is a good idea and she’s looking forward to getting some hands-on experience on campus.

“This new facility will broaden our horizons on what we’re able to do and what students are able to see and learn on and I think it’s a great opportunity for us as students,” Swenson said.

Ajay Menon, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, sent a letter to colleagues last month saying there have been “misconceptions” about the facility, which he called “crucial” for CSU students and faculty.

“To characterize the facility as a 'slaughterhouse' does not accurately represent the range of activities that will take place including research on preventing and detecting food borne illnesses, innovations in food packaging design, best practices in food preparation, and exposure to retail food service operations,” Menon said.

Construction on the facility is expected to last about 18 months.


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