Page County supervisors to discuss bringing meat processing facility to county
LURAY, Va. (WHSV) - On Monday night the Page County Board of Supervisors will hold a joint meeting with the county’s Economic Development Authority to discuss the possibility of bringing a meat processing facility to Page County. The idea is called the Page Valley Foods Project.
A recent feasibility study by the county and an older study by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission both found that the county has a great need for such a facility.
While Page County has a large number of cattle farmers there aren’t many options to process meat in the area which has put a financial strain on farmers. This has led some to stop finishing cattle or have it sold and processed out of state which in turn leads to less local beef being sold in the county.
“During COVID this became a real reality, food shortages, supply issues, how do we combat that when we have all these farmers here producing beautiful quality beef and our shelves were empty?” said Page County Director of Economic Development and Tourism Nina Fox.
Another issue that county staff feels that a meat processing facility could help with is the desire to preserve farmland.
“We have very conservative values here in Page County traditionally as far as the majority. So we’d like to create a way to preserve farmland without mandates and the only way to do that is to make farming more profitable, and this is a really great way to be able to do that. If farmers are generating incomes that they want that far exceed solar or residential then that preserves farmland essentially,” said Fox.
Fox said that a meat processing facility in the county would make a big difference for local farmers.
“Having a facility here that can process the cattle, and then be processed, and then sold will really generate significant revenue increases to our local farmers and opportunities for them to make more premium products available,” she said.
The Page Valley Foods Project is still in the conceptual phase but Fox said that if it moves forward the idea is for a private-public partnership to create and run the facility.
“We ideally would love for this to be a cooperative-style enterprise that is possibly assisted through loans through the county, there are federal grants and state grants available that we’re looking to leverage as well,” she said. “But if a private industry sees the results and sees the work that’s been done and they come in and say ‘Hey listen we want to take the baton and run with it and build it’ then that’s great too. We want to keep this ball rolling and keep this moving in the right direction.”
Fox said that Phase 2 of the project will involve creating a legal structure and investment portfolio, searching out investors, securing a property for the facility, and eventually creating engineering plans for the facility.
Nothing is set in stone but Fox said the facility would likely be built somewhere in southern Page County near the town of Shenandoah.
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