A groundbreaking on Saturday signaled the start of construction for the Alleghany Highland Agricultural Center. Scheduled to open in December, the facility in Monterey, Va., is expected to cut transport times for farmers shipping beef, pigs and sheep for slaughter and add value to meat that leaves the county, reports The News Leader.

"If we can process that meat here and send it out on trucks as steak, you get a lot more value off the truck," said Lloyd Bird, a part-time farmer and a member of the board that organized fundraising the planning for the center.

The closest slaughterhouses for animals raised in Highland are many miles and twisting mountain passes away. That's one reason that planning began in 2005 among local farmers to build a meat processing center closer to where they raise their animals. Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to provide a low-interest loan of $480,000, which kick-started a campaign to raise another $1 million. Organizers reached that goal in December.

The center is expected to process 20 cattle per week, or an equivalent of sheep and pigs. The 3,900-square-foot building will also include meeting rooms, a library and a place to provide animal marketing and job training assistance. It will start with four employees and can grow as business expands.


Source: The News Leader