Two Trimble County farmers
join push for area meat plant
Initiative seeks funding
from state ag financial sources
CAMPBELLSBURG, Ky. (May 2014) – John Edwards and Chris Wright may be part-time farmers, but they have big dreams for the agricultural industry in Henry and surrounding counties. The two are behind the push to open a meat processing facility that would provide a much-needed service for many farmers in the region.
“Both Chris and I are part-time farmers. We raise and sell beef off of our farms,” said Edwards, 34. But after driving an hour and a half to get to the nearest meat processing facility, both Trimble County farmers felt the need for such a business closer to home.
“We’ve said for years that we need a meat processing facility in this area,” said Edwards. The two men, who have known each other since they were kids, decided it was time to turn this dream into a reality. Both grew up on family farms and have “a passion for agriculture,” Edwards said.
Last fall, a group of farmers in Henry County started a steering committee to pay for a feasibility study that was conducted by the Kentucky Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. Jon Bednarski of La Grange, Ky., is part of that committee and said that both men “bring a lot to the table.” As president of the Oldham County Cattleman’s Association, he wrote a letter in support of the project.
Because of their efforts, he said he feels the project “is moving forward.” There was an overwhelming response to the feasibility study – more than anyone expected.
Edwards said he and Wright would like to offer additional services, such as smoked meats, country hams and sausage. “These are value added services we could provide to customers,” he said.
Edwards said the two, who both work as linemen for AT&T, are willing to do most of the leg work for farmers. “We’d like to get into the wholesale and retail markets.” While a farmer might not have the time to work out all of the details with buyers, that is where he and Wright would step in.
They are looking at a location in a business park in Campbellsburg located on Hwy. 55 to build the facility. They have not purchased the land yet, but it is in the process of being re-zoned.
To build such a facility, “we’re looking at $970,000,” said Edwards. The feasibility study projected the cost to be higher.
Edwards and Wright have requested funding from state Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, and “county funds from Trimble, Shelby, Oldham, Henry, Carroll, Owen and Jefferson counties,” said Steve Moore, Henry County Extension Agent. Once the counties receive their 2014 appropriations for their KADF funding for the year, Edwards and Wright “will be asking to meet with each of the County Agriculture Development Councils to explain the project, and hopefully receive county funds, also.”
Moore said the pair is also requesting assistance in the form of a loan from the Kentucky Ag Finance Corp. “Any funding there must be administered by a regular bank,” he said.
“In a couple of weeks, as counties are informed of their 2014 appropriations by the Governor’s Office of Ag Policy, things should start to move rapidly,” said Moore. He said he hopes to find out more at the May meeting of the Kentucky Ag Development Board.
“A lawsuit brought by some tobacco companies has already siphoned off a large part of the 2014 Master Settlement Agreement payment to the state,” Moore said.
The result has been “frozen funds for projects such as this,” Bednarski said.
Nevertheless, “We’ve had overwhelming support,” Edwards said. “So many people have done so much leg work, from local politicians, to the steering committee and farmers.”
A business plan has been developed and “we feel pretty good about how things are going so far,” he said. “We want to provide a service to other farmers. We have a good plan to start with and we know where we want to be in five years.”
Back to May 2014 Articles.