The Foothills Pilot Plant, located in Marion, N.C., has opened for business for area poultry and rabbit producers. It is being billed as “the first community-administered, nonprofit meat processing facility in the U.S.,” reports the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Foothills Pilot Plant LLC (FPP) is an independent entity started by McDowell Economic Development Association (MEDA) Inc. and supported by the Independent Small Animal Meat Processors Association (ISAMPA). The facility processes chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and other specialty fowl on a fee for service basis. In partnership with ISAMPA, FPP also serves as a center for learning best practices for small flock production of poultry and small scale production of meat rabbits. The facility is another step towards promoting sustainable agriculture in Western North Carolina, the facility states.

Plant manager Paljinder Manhiani said the goal for the first year is $400,000 in revenues, which would mean processing 50,000 to 60,000 birds.

The next nearest poultry processing facility is in Tennessee, about 2 1/2 hours away.

“There are a lot of people who are calling me, even if they don’t have poultry now, because they want to start raising poultry,” Manhiani said. “It’s a way they can increase the revenues of their farm and secure their livelihood.”

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Sources: Foothills Pilot Plant, Asheville Citizen-Times