Washington County Commission

Washington County Commissioners approved $2 million in funds Monday for a proposed meat processing facility in Telford. 

The Washington County Commission voted unanimously Monday night to grant $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a proposed meat processing facility in Telford.

Approved funds will be paid to Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council (ARC&D) who will then share those funds with the Appalachian Producers Coalition, a group of farmers that will own and operate the projected $10 million project.

“We’re having to schedule kill dates that are before a lot of animals are even born,” said Mike Southerland, president of the Appalachian

Producer’s Coalition. “I think it was a real scare when people went to the grocery store and there wasn’t any meat available.”

Executive Director of the ARC&D Susan McKinney said that having a local meat processing facility will help create a more sustainable food system regionally.

“It’s a great opportunity to have one more component of local food readily accessible to consumers,” McKinney said. “The plant will make a generational impact on farmers in the region, as the next generation considers whether to join their family farm or pursue another business.”

Additionally, McKinney said the average age of farmers right now in this region is about 58 years old.

“This will make a generational im- pact for those folks that are considering what to do next. Are they going to come alongside in the family farming business or are they going to do something else?” she noted. “This gives it a positive impact to those folks that are considering that and preserves the natural landscape of our region as well.”

Southerland added that everyone benefits from what the farmer finds best.

“When the farmer does better, everybody he deals with does better,” he explained. “So, it should be an economic boost for the whole area.”

Before Christmas break, county commissioners gave the Appalachian Farmers Cooperative the go ahead to hire an architect for the project.

In the early planning stages for the facility, the project faced opposition as some county residents said they were unhappy with the idea of $2 million in tax- payer money being given to private industry.

Additionally, the location has community members concerned about potential noise and odor surrounding the plant.

Several amendments were made to the original proposal including:

• A right of first refusal for Washington County over the next 10 years.

• In the event of the co- operation failing, either by liquidation, loans defaulting or failure to secure construction, the county would take control of the operation and assume any debt.

• The cooperative must report back to the commission every six months and annually through the 10- year period.

• The cooperative cannot spend any of the county’s money until it is needed.

• The county will recoup some of its investment by receiving a cut of distributions from the cooperative based on the county’s per- centage of the total investment in the project.

The proposed location remains near the Jonesborough Flea Market on 11-E, directly across from the Washington County Industrial Park and less than a mile from Grandview Elementary School.


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