By Teresa Crowder
Johnson County has a rich history of agriculture. Farmers continue to raise animals for the market or as a food source. There is also a strong and active Master Beef Producers and Cattlemen’s Association in the county as well.
When farmers or hunters need to get an animal processed for food, it is quite inconvenient. One must travel a good distance out of the county to a processing facility, and the waiting list for that service is almost a year.
During the recent Covid Pandemic, communities also experienced how critical and fragile our supply chain for food can be.
With all these things in mind, Mayor Mike Taylor went to work on this project, and this past December, he had the privilege to present a proposal for a meat processing plant in Johnson County to Ms. Gayle Manchin, who currently serves as the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. Recently, Mayor Taylor was informed of the approval of the $580,000 for Johnson County.
The funds will be used to build a custom meat processing facility on a county-owned property parcel. “I also wrote, and was approved for, a $50,000 ThreeStar grant to purchase the processing equipment used in the facility.”, Taylor said.
County residents will benefit significantly from the installation and function of this facility. “The accessibility to a local meat processing facility will allow our farmers an opportunity to supply fresh, locally grown meat to their families and other consumers. We also have a partnership with our CTE program that will use the facility to train students to have the skills necessary to work in the industry preparing meat for the market.”, continues Taylor. To maximize the benefits and leadership of this facility, a meat processing facility committee was appointed by Taylor early on, which included Herbie Adams, Matthew Lewis, Billy Ward, Terry Snyder, Jerry Gentry, and Mayor Taylor. Johnson County is partnering with the UT Extension office, Johnson County Schools CTE, The Cattlemen’s Association, and the Master Beef Producers group.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest in building community capacity and strengthening economic growth in Appalachia. For more information on ARC, visit arc.gov.