The Appalachian Producers Cooperative (APC) plans to bring a new meat processing center to Telford, Tennessee. The new facility will be built adjacent to the Jonesborough Flea Market, just off US Highway 11E. Earlier this year, the county commissioners approved a resolution to develop the regional meat processing center, earmarking $2 million from their American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the $10 million project.
The meat processing plant project will be funded through a combination of state and federal grants and funds provided by the APC. The APC has already secured a grant of $991,546 from the Appalachian Regional Commission, which will be used to help fund the project. The facility will be owned and managed by farmers who use its services and will be overseen by the APC.
The APC is the first farmer-owned cooperative established in Tennessee in over 50 years. The center will be owned by its member farmers, who will also manage it. All voting members of the cooperative must be active farmers who process livestock in the facility. Any profits generated by the facility will be distributed among the members through a patronage system based on an individual member's annual usage of the facility.
The new facility will process 25-30 head of livestock per day, equating to five to 10 farm trucks with cattle trailers coming to the facility for an early morning appointment. It will employ a staff of 20 to 25 employees and is planning to have a small retail area for fresh meat sales.
Investing in local agriculture provides a ripple effect in other industries, and proponents of the processing center believe it will serve as a strong economic multiplier for the local economy. Farmers are more likely than other types of businesses to spend their dollars at other local businesses, including buying feed and fertilizer, fuel, veterinary services, equipment, infrastructure, insurance, financial services, and more.
The facility will offer several benefits to consumers, according to officials with the Appalachian RC&D Council, serving as the project's fiscal agent. The benefits include offering the freshest beef to local consumers, restaurants, and grocery stores. The cooperative will be able to offer the highest quality beef at affordable prices, with no middlemen involved. Moreover, the meat processed at this facility will be much more sustainable because cattle are shipped thousands of miles to feedlots and processing plants in the Midwest before the finished product is shipped back to local consumers. With a local processing facility, transportation, processing, and cold storage emissions will be reduced as fewer miles are traveled between farm and table. Finally, the facility will meet consumer demand by selling meat from beef born, raised, and processed in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Western North Carolina.
The processing center will create new jobs and support local agriculture, and its impact on the local economy will be significant. By bringing a new meat processing center to Telford, the Appalachian Producers Cooperative provides a valuable service to farmers and consumers. The project will contribute to the local economy while offering a more sustainable and locally sourced alternative to traditional meat processing centers.
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