FUNDING AVAILABLE TO INCREASE CRITICAL MEAT PROCESSING CAPACITY; KEEP FAMILY FARMS IN BUSINESS
TOBACCO REGION REVITALIZATION COMMISSION HOLDS SPECIAL FUNDING ROUND AIMED AT INCREASING MEAT PROCESSING CAPACITY IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA
Abingdon, VA – The Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission is currently accepting applications for a special funding round aimed at increasing the number of meat processing facilities in Southwest Virginia.
This funding from the Commission seeks to meet the needs of local producers who have made it clear that adequate meat processing capacity does not exist in the region. This is a critical issue for producers as lengthy and unpredictable wait times for processing of their animals, combined with the long distances often required to get their animals to the processing facility, contribute to greatly decreased profitability and make it much more difficult for these family businesses to continue operating.
Currently, producers are seeing wait times for processing extending out a year or more and are often required to transport their animals hundreds of miles, at great cost, when they are able to obtain time at a facility. Simply put, this is not sustainable and should this unavailability of processing capacity continue it will likely result in the loss of long-time producers who are unable to bear the costs associated with these long and unpredictable wait times and excessive transportation costs to bring their product to market.
John Rhudy, owner of Rhudy Livestock in Burke’s Garden said, “The number of processing facilities, especially USDA inspected facilities, has decreased dramatically over the years. The remaining facilities are booked up six months to a year in advance. It is extremely difficult to get an appointment, and virtually impossible on short notice. With the eat local movement in full swing and the memory of the 2020 shutdowns still fresh, people want access to local meats, as well as the opportunity to have their own home-raised animals processed locally. Locally-owned and operated USDA inspected facilities are needed for farmers and ranchers to have the opportunity to direct market their products, which gives them the chance to be sustainable and stay in business.”
To help meet this need the Commission will award up to $2.5 million in total funding for projects that create new USDA certified meat processing capacity within the Southwest Virginia Region. Priority will be given to facilities that are capable of serving multiple localities.
“This is an excellent opportunity for the Tobacco Commission to play a major role in addressing an important issue that our agricultural community is facing”, said Tobacco Commission Vice-Chair, Delegate Will Morefield. “This added capacity will help keep family farms in business by reducing the uncertainty, long wait times and high transport costs many of them are currently facing when trying to bring their products to market. The Commission has long prided itself on listening to the needs of our communities and taking action. This funding is a great example of our commitment to doing just that.”
Over the years the Commission has constantly evolved to meet the needs of the communities it serves and this funding round is a perfect example of that. As the Commission continues the work of developing a diverse economy in Southern and Southwest Virginia it encourages its partners to communicate their needs whenever they feel the Commission may be able to help.
The deadline to apply for this special funding round is June 1, 2023.
For more information on this special funding round, including program guidelines, please visit our website, www.revitalizeva.org.