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What Would a Small-Scale Animal Processing Facility Mean to Jackson County Livestock Producers?

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There has been a faint buzz of conversation surrounding this topic as of late in Jackson County, and you may have found yourself asking why do I care about this topic, especially if you are not a livestock producer or involved in processing any type of meat. However, if the Covid pandemic taught us anything from standing in the grocery store looking at empty shelves where chicken, pork, and beef etc., should have been it’s that our food supply chain needs all the help it can get. As a community member and agricultural professional, I want to take this opportunity to discuss the positive impact that a small-scale animal processor could potentially
have on our community as a whole. From producers to consumers including the local businesses that would be affected in between. We are all consumers of farm products. From the food we eat each day to the clothes that we wear on our backs, and sometimes we need a gentle reminder of just how important that is to our daily lives. After all, where would we be without agriculture other than hungry and naked?

In general, a small-scale animal processing facility would allow local and even regional producers to process and market products more efficiently. Less time would be spent waiting for a processing date at other small-scale facilities which are already backlogged due to a limited number of existing small-scale processors in the area, across the state, and in the country. This in turn would allow an even more local and convenient option for current producers who are limited in how many animals per year they can process, not by farm size/capacity or even demand, but simply by how many head they can have processed at these existing backlogged processors. Providing local producers with a more convenient option to
meet their needs would also help alleviate the strain that other small scale animal processors are feeling and would help them to better serve their local clientele as well. This may entice a number of producers to consider producing local meats to sell commercially or for personal use.

Lastly, you may be wondering why Cooperative Extension Cares and how we can help prospective producers and other stakeholders. N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jackson County Center has/is/and will continue to extend research-based knowledge to all citizens, helping them transform science into everyday solutions that improve their lives and grow our local communities and state. In this case through livestock programming which provides the tools, opportunities, and knowledge livestock producers need in order to be profitable and sustainable. With that being said any producer that has an interest in anything that has been discussed in this article is welcome to contact Kendra Fortner at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jackson County Center at 828-586-4009 or the Swain County Cooperative Extension Center at 828-488-3848 or by email at