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Halal meat processing facility in Glyndon clears initial barrier with county approval

The Clay County Planning Commission unanimously granted a conditional use permit for a sheep and goat processing facility in Glyndon. The permit faced stiff opposition from neighboring residents, though some in attendance felt it was a necessary addition to the metro area.

halal meat processing facility.2
The Clay County Planning Commission has unanimously granted a conditional use permit for a sheep and goat processing facility in Glyndon.
Chris Flynn / The Forum
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GLYNDON, Minn. — The halal meat processing facility proposed for Glyndon cleared its first hurdle Tuesday night, Sept. 20, when the Clay County planning commission unanimously granted a conditional use permit for the facility.

Khna Chroeung, who was one of the founders of the Lotus Blossom grocery store in Fargo, is behind the effort to open the plant. According to Chroeung’s original permit application, the plant would house up to 50 sheep and goats at a time. Those animals would be slaughtered and used to supply fresh, organic, grass-fed meat to local ethnic grocery stores in the area.

The permit listed six conditions. If those conditions are not met, it will become invalidated. Those six conditions are:

  1. Meat sales must occur off site. If sales occur on site, an amendment to the permit is required.
  2. Signage is restricted to 64-square-feet.
  3. A detailed manure management plan must be crested with the county’s feedlot manager.
  4. A detailed waste management plan must be developed with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
  5. The landowner must meet all inspection and licensing requirements from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  6. The commission can also add any other conditions it deems necessary.

The permit’s issuance came despite strong opposition from neighboring residents, who feared the facility would be a detriment to the neighborhood.
Ashley and Louis Paul, who live northwest of the plant’s location at 5112 110th St. S., expressed a list of concerns. Among those were increased traffic hazards, odor, sanitation and predation from unwanted wildlife like coyotes or bears.

While the plant meets the county’s setback requirements, Louis Paul said that his and nearby residences would be impacted by noise, odor and dust. “I’m not disputing that it’s not a good idea or there’s not a shortage,” he remarked. "I think we’re disputing the location.”

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Craig Nelson, who lives directly south, feared his property value would fall dramatically with a slaughterhouse next door. “This property we’re talking about used to be a very beautiful property, too. I’m really concerned about the pollution and what it’s going to do to my property value,” he said. “We’ve lived in this community for years and this county for years. That something like this could happen this quickly, it’d kill my property value.”

Nelson also claimed that the property is not currently well-maintained and he hadn’t seen anyone at the site in quite some time until very recently.

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Other neighbors also shared their worries regarding property values. “I don’t have a fancy place. It’s a 100-plus year old residence with an old dairy barn ... For us, it’s a little piece of paradise,” said Joe Parise, who lives to the southwest of the plant’s location. “I could see something like this getting out of hand if it wasn’t carefully controlled.”

A welcome addition

Not all those gathered Tuesday night were opposed to the plant.

Ali Saaed, speaking on behalf of the property owner, said that he has been in touch with local stores, restaurants and buffets. Those establishments have complained about shipping costs and delays for frozen meat from overseas. “The main goals are to create job opportunities and also support our community locally,” he explained.

Demand for fresh sheep and goat meat is on the rise in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Saeed continued. Local African and Muslim residents can easily tell the difference between fresh and frozen offerings as well. “In the past few years, I have noticed significantly, really high demand on goat meat and sheep meat specifically,” Saeed commented.

halal meat processing facility.1
According to the permit application filed by Khna Chroeung, the processing plant would house up to 50 sheep and goats at a time. Those animals would be slaughtered and used to supply fresh, organic, grass-fed meat to local ethnic grocery stores in the area.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Noelle Harden of Cass Clay Food Partners said the facility in Glyndon could go a long way in easing supply concerns across the region. “The lack of processing facilities, particularly small-scale like this one, is actually one of the biggest bottlenecks affecting meat producers in our statewide food system,” she said. “I think that this project is a great idea to help address that.”

Nidal Omar told The Forum the processing facility would be appreciated not only by Muslims, but other residents as well. “Not only for the Muslim population, that there’s quite a bit of here, but the fresh meats are also sought after by many other ethnic groups who are calling Fargo-Moorhead home,” the Islamic Society of Fargo-Moorhead’s president said.

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Frozen meats sold in local stores come primarily from New Zealand and Australia, Omar said, however larger cities like Minneapolis, Chicago and Indianapolis all have local, organic alternatives.

Omar said that the local Islamic Society has not been in touch with Chroeung regarding the plant. Omar is also unsure of how the meats will achieve halal certification. Halal food is “permitted under Islamic Law” and must meet a variety of conditions related to its preparation, processing, transportation and storage, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states.

In order to meet halal requirements, Omar said a small-scale facility such as the one proposed in Glyndon would need to coordinate with local mosques. “You don’t want people being taken for a ride,” he noted. “Not only should it be certified from the USDA from that point of view, there should also be a certification (from local mosques) … there should be some kinds of checks and balances to make sure they are doing what they claim they are doing.”

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Fri Sep 23 07:00:00 EDT 2022
John D. Peterson and his business partner, Art Weidner, own Mainline Hops Farm located near Sabin, Minn., and have supplied hops to a handful of small breweries in the region, including Junkyard Brewing and Revelation Ale Works. 

Peterson joins host Thomas Evanella to discuss the business of growing hops, the peaceful joy of operating a hobby farm, and his desire to see a beer made entirely from ingredients grown in Clay County.

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at InForum.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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Khna Chroeung, one of the founders of the Lotus Blossom ethnic grocery store in Fargo, is seeking to open a “small-scale” facility for raising and slaughtering goats and sheep in rural Glyndon. The meats would be distributed to local grocers and restaurants seeking greater access to such meats.