WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Washington County Commissioners will have the option to provide $2 million in funding to a proposed meat processing facility during its meeting Monday.
Stakeholders told News Channel 11 that the funding would be a tremendous help. Advocates say that bringing a meat processing facility to the area would mean that they would not have to send off all of the product that is grown here locally to be processed somewhere else.
Lexi Close of the RC&D Council says that having food processing infrastructure so close to home may help us avoid some of the food supply disruptions that we saw during the pandemic.
Close adds that they are eying a spot near the Jonesborough flea market as a possible site for the new processing plant.
A local sheep farmer Chris Wilson said that she faced some issues during the pandemic in regards to the processing as well. She said that up until the past few years getting lambs processed was no big deal, but then some of the major packers began shutting down.
“The thing about lambs is they have – a lamb has to be under a year of age to be called the lamb. So that leaves your processing window fairly short. If you just have one lamb to process, you could probably get that into a processor without too much of a wait. But if you’ve got 50 or 25, you’re looking at a long wait time and you don’t always have that flexibility when you’re finishing lambs,” Wilson said.
Wilson says that demand for a local processor has grown “beyond belief” in the past few years. She says that a local processor would eliminate some of the long waits times and allow farmers to do more planning as to when they breed.
She said a local processor would also allow people to know where their food came from and how it was processed.
In addition, Wilson says that more money would be able to flow back to the farmers who provided the food with a local processing facility.
The owner of Hamilton Meats also said that they have customers coming in every day asking where the meat is from, adding that people want local beef.
Hamilton also mentioned that they have been having trucking issues, something that the addition of a local processing facility would help resolve.
Hamilton Meats say that they support the idea 100%.