Florida: Alachua County will spend $2.5M in federal aid on a publicly-owned meat processing facility

Commissioners for a Florida county has voted unanimously to spend $2.5 million for a meat processing plant in the town of Newberry, according to a report by local radio station WUFT.

The money is part of the $52.25 million allocated to Alachua County through the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed in 2021 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alachua County, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Santa Fe College will collaborate on the 10-acre facility. The initiative is a response to supply chain issues that many industries felt during the pandemic.

The county will seek private sector funds to pay for the remaining costs of the $5.25 million facility, which will be privately operated, but publicly owned.

Florida ranchers aren’t the only ones who are expected to benefit from the facility, which should help ranchers within a 100-mile radius, extending into South Georgia.

The plant is expected to provide 12 jobs and process four to 15 heads a day. The county said at the meeting the facility’s estimated annual economic impact in the community would be $10 million to $15 million.

Construction is expected to start January 2024 and be completed by the end of 2026, beginning operations in 2027.