CONCORD, NC – The Cruse Meats Harvest Facility’s new building opened July 5, according to The Charlotte Observer. A 4,500-sq.-ft. expansion to Cruse Meats, a family owned business that packages meat, now makes it Cabarrus County’s first large-scale, state-regulated meat processing plant. It is expected to harvest animals from 10 nearby counties.

For years, hundreds of farmers previously had to load animals on trailers and drive for as long as four hours to reach processing facilities in Taylorsville and Browns Summit. Such transportation added up labor and fuel costs for farmers and stressed the animals, that negatively affected the quality their meat.

The new plant will primarily handle beef cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.

Securing and building the plant took four years and several sources of money. Cabarrus County won a $675,000 grant, one of the largest ever, from the NC Department of Agriculture’s trust fund for farm land preservation. The county then matched that with money previously earmarked for tax incentives for Philip Morris. When Philip Morris announced it was closing, that made $400,000 available to split between the meat facility and the Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, which is another Cabarrus sustainable-agriculture project.

The county also gets money from the only such program in the state that supports sustainable agriculture with three years’ worth of tax incentives paid back when farm land is sold for development.

Since that still isn’t enough to cover costs for needed waste-water treatment equipment, the cost of processing each animal will include a fee until a county loan is paid off.