Projected Economic Benefits for the Proposed Meat Processing Center | News

This is the second part of a question and answer session with Lexy Close, program director of the Appalachian RC&D; Council, and her colleagues at the Appalachian Producers Cooperative regarding their plans to establish a regional center for the transformation of meat for local beef, lamb and pork producers.

The Appalachian Producers Cooperative is asking Washington County for $2 million to locate the facility in the Telford area.

Will this facility have to meet certain human and health standards and will it be inspected regularly by a regulatory body?

This facility will be inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. To become an inspected facility, the Appalachian Producers Cooperative will need a rigorous food safety plan, worker safety plan, and hazard analysis and critical control point plan in place, as well as trained staff to implement and monitor these plans.

Although the USDA maintains certain requirements for humane handling, the co-op will additionally seek third-party certification from “A Greener World for Animal Welfare Approval”.

Not only are most of these practices common sense, but it will allow the facility to provide services to area farms that are also animal welfare approved.

How will the cooperative dispose of what remains of the animals, their waste and any runoff from processing?

Solid waste will be picked up by a rendering company or disposed of at landfill. Liquid waste will be treated appropriately and discharged into the sewer system.

The co-op works closely with the Town of Jonesborough Sewer Department to ensure that anything that goes down the sewer complies with regulations.

The facility will be subject to USDA inspection and federal environmental review.

Is there an ongoing operation that this facility will be modeled after?

So far, members of the cooperative have visited facilities in Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia and plan to make more trips in the future. The biggest inspiration for the operation is the Appalachian Slaughterhouse in Charleston, West Virginia.

They have a similar sized facility and are on a mission to provide high quality processing services to farmers and locally raised meat to restaurants and consumers. You can see their website here:

What kind of impact do you see this facility having on the regional economy?

Currently, all farmers in Washington County must truck their livestock to other counties or out of state to access processing facilities. By building a facility here, taxpayer dollars and dollars will be kept in the county, and the facility will entice farmers from other counties and states to spend their money here.

The co-op’s financial projections show that the facility will bring in about $4.3 million in annual revenue once it reaches full capacity by year four. Because it is structured as a cooperative, all profits made will be distributed among member farmers in the region.

Local agriculture has a strong economic multiplier for a local economy. Farmers are more likely than other business types to spend their money on other local businesses.

This includes the purchase of feed and fertilizer, fuel, veterinary services, equipment, infrastructure, insurance, financial services, etc.

Investing in local agriculture has a ripple effect on other industries.

What are the benefits for consumers?

• Beef sold to local consumers, restaurants and grocery stores will be the freshest available without the need for extended shipping or storage times.

• Because there are no middlemen, the co-op will be able to offer the highest quality beef at affordable prices.

• Meat processed at this facility will be much more sustainable as cattle are currently shipped thousands of miles to feedlots and processing plants throughout the Midwest before the finished product is returned to local consumers. A local processing facility will reduce emissions associated with transportation, processing and cold storage, as fewer miles are traveled from farm to table.

• Large processors can mean big contamination problems, often triggering national recalls on contaminated meat. Buying directly from local processors may present a lower risk of contamination, as the meat will spend less time in processing, handling, storage and shipping before reaching the consumer, reducing the chances of contamination. entry of pathogens into the food supply.

• Finally, many consumers enjoy buying locally produced foods and this facility will meet that demand by selling meat from cattle born, raised and processed in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and western North Carolina.

What is the estimated cost of this project and where will the funds come from?

The co-op expects to raise approximately $8 million to build and operate the facility in its first year. This amount will be raised through a combination of grants, loans and member investments.

Federal, state and local governments understand the impacts of the pandemic, recent natural disasters and even cyberattacks on our national food chain and are looking for ways to strengthen and diversify our food processing, aggregation and distribution infrastructure to make it more resilient.

As a result, historic subsidy amounts are now available for new meat processing facilities. Those funds will go somewhere, and the co-op will work to make sure Washington County gets its share.

This facility is a generational investment in our regional food system infrastructure that will pay dividends to farmers and families for years to come.