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Setting the record straight / May 07, 2015

Dear Viewpoint:

In light of recent public comments and published commentary in The News & Record (“The audacity of nope,” April 2), I’d like to respectfully set the record straight regarding the possibility of a meat processing facility in Halifax County.

In 2014, in response to a group of interested livestock producers, Halifax County commissioned a feasibility study for a local meat processing business from the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture Innovation & Rural Sustainability.

Based on the proximity and needs of area farms, post-study recommendations are for a smaller-scale beef slaughter and processing facility that would handle about 1,500 to 1,600 animals a year. This would be an enclosed and inconspicuous business that would be subject to regular federal inspections, all relevant environmental regulations and current labor requirements.

At full capacity, it would provide about a dozen new jobs, a mix of skilled labor positions paying above minimum wage and professional management and administrative positions. Because its finished products would be foods, consumer safety would be of the utmost importance.

The facility would address more than one need. As consumers show more and more interest in purchasing foods that are raised and processed locally, farmers in our area would be able to choose a local, USDA-inspected processing site (Their current closest options are in Campbell and Bedford counties). Additionally, the facility would serve citizens who choose to raise small numbers of beef cattle for their own consumption. It also would have the potential to produce value-added goods such as custom cuts and smoked meat products.

The Halifax County Farm Bureau has a keen interest in the possibilities such a facility would open for this community. We view it as a boost for our producers, a source of sought-after local products for consumers and an economic asset for our county.

Everyone’s food comes from somewhere. For the forward-thinking farmer and the interested consumer, we support the opportunity to raise, share and enjoy foods from close to home.

Scott Crowder, President

Halifax County Farm Bureau

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