NEWBERRY, FLA. ‒ The proposed Newberry meat processing facility garnered top billing at the Monday, April 24, Newberry City Commission meeting. Newberry citizens packed the meeting room to hear Newberry City Manager Mike New review high points of a meeting he attended with members of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) regarding the Newberry Environmental Park and the meat processing facility.

New said that Newberry would not be operating the meat packing facility, but would be partnering with the County to provide land for the 10,000 square-foot facility. The property that will likely be available to the County comprises approximately 40 acres. With a 10,000-square-foot facility within that much land, New said there would be a significant buffer around the meat packing facility. The rest of the project site is earmarked to be used for the proposed wastewater treatment facility, a new location for the City’s Public Works Department, a firefighters training facility, a composting facility and a limited pilot wetlands educational project. A number of citizens opposed to the meat processing facility approached the podium to express their displeasure that the City would consider such a project.

BoCC Chair Anna Prizzia, a proponent of the project, was in the audience and said the meat processing facility would not only support small to mid-sized ranchers, but also promote local resilience and food security. Prizzia said project costs are estimated to be $5.25 million and that the facility would serve ranchers within a 100-mile radius and is anticipated to create 70 jobs.

The BoCC has set aside $2.5 million in ARPA funds for this project and Prizzia said they are working with legislators to obtain matching funds.

Some 26 people voiced their opinion about the meat processing facility with 14 in favor of the facility and 12 against. Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said he kept track of whether comments were from Newberry residents and reported that a higher number of Newberry residents wanted the facility than did not.

The next step in the process is for the County to present an interlocal agreement to the City for the property for review by City staff and the City attorney.

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