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City of Eugene Considers Allowing Urban Goats

EUGENE, Ore. — Business is booming at Eugene’s The Backyard Farmer, a store focused on helping urban residents grow and produce their own food. The inventory is made up of supplies for gardening and raising backyard chickens, but if city code changes, the merchandise for sale could too.

“So many people have already done many aspects of a backyard farm,” said Bill Bezuk, The Backyard Farmer’s owner. “Starting with the chickens and the garden and the composting and now maybe you have the honeybees. Goats are a logical progression for many people.”

Right now, you can only have a goat if your backyard is a whopping 20,000 square feet.

“The council asked us to prepare a draft code to address goats and farm animals,” said City of Eugene land use analyst Kristie Brown. “We’re taking that opportunity to re-look at the farm animal standards.”

As staff works on the ordinance, they’re looking at other cities — like Portland — that allow urban goats.

“It is different in the sense that they actually require licensing,” Brown said. “That’s not part of our proposal at this time.”

The fact that there is a proposal in the works is exciting for local goat farmers, like Cheryl Smith. She literally wrote the book on it: Goat Farming for Dummies.

“There may be some people who are opposed to having ‘livestock’ in the city,” Smith said. “But, in fact, goats are probably cleaner than dogs. I think they’re better than dogs, actually.”

She said goats have a lot of value: “You can get milk from them. You can get fiber from them. You can eat them.”

She and Bezuk hope the city council passes the ordinance allowing goats in smaller yards. They said — while the livestock has all sorts of uses — they make good pets too.

“Much like chickens and bees, goats can be pretty entertaining. They’re going to enhance your entire urban farm,” Bezuk said.

Brown says the ordinance should be ready for the council to review by the end of this summer.

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