Highland County Meat Processing Plant Expected To Spin Off Other Businesses
Monterey, VA – Preparations for starting construction of the Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center’s proposed meat processing plant are entering their final phase. As soon as the remaining funds for construction of the plant are raised, construction is expected to begin. Board member Lloyd Bird discusses one of the major problems that must be overcome before farmers in this area can expect increased profits from livestock production.
“One of the challenges in economic development in this area is transportation” says Bird. “When you put low value product on a truck and carry it over the mountains, it’s hard to compete with people who are closer to the highway system. This is an opportunity to put high value product on the truck out of this area by processing it, adding value to that product before it leaves here.”
Mr. Bird goes on to comment on how this plant complements area residents’ strong commitment to agriculture.
“It’s very much an economic development project that is central to the agricultural heritage of the area” he says. “The mechanism to add value to product that’s already here.”
The business plan indicates that the availability of locally produced meats could spin off several other business opportunities for county residents.
“You can’t help but see that this business is really the core of industry. It provides the opportunity not only for the farmers to add value to their product; it adds opportunities such as retail marketing of meat in Monterey independantly of the center. It allows other businesses to grow, other opportunities for citizens of this area or in the four county region to take advantage of a place where the meat can be locally processed and transported and sold” he says.
Mr. Bird anticipates that the plant could have long term benefits that would extend beyond just the economy.
“The business plan shows that it is a business that is sustainable” says Bird. “It’s going to help sustain agriculture in the area and allowing people to keep their farms or stay on their farms. It helps the schools. It’s very much a circular benefit as far as I can see – it’s like adding a little motor to the economy.”
The business plan calls for local livestock producers to both own and control the plant. This will insure that the plant is operated in accord with the producers preferences. Mr. Bird has offered to speak to civic groups in the four county area about the meat processing plant. Call the Highland Center in Monterey if you would like more information.