Alaska farmers want prison-run slaughterhouse kept open

ANCHORAGE — Farmers across Alaska are fighting to keep a state-run slaughterhouse open after lawmakers announced plans to shut down the facility next June due to budget concerns.

Officials with the Alaska Farm Bureau say Mt. McKinley Meats and Sausage, which is one of the state’s three meat processing facilities, is hurting the state economically because the facility isn’t allowed to compete in the private sector.

State legislators announced last month that the plant could be shuttered for good by the end of the current budget cycle, KTUU-TV reported. But the bureau is planning to present the state with alternatives to closing the facility.

“We’re going to recommend that the state continue ownership of the plant, with a possible lease option to an entity of either a co-op or a small group of people who are willing to take it on and invest in it and run it privately,” said Scott Mugrage, director of the Alaska Farm Bureau.

The facility is operated by prisoners from the Alaska Department of Corrections. Mugrage said the business could be profitable if the state replaces the prisoners with industry professionals.

The Farm Bureau will be present during the upcoming regular legislative session in Juneau to voice their opinions on the issue, Mugrage said.

“The Farm Bureau is the biggest organized voice for agriculture in the State of Alaska… so I think (lawmakers) take our advice to heart,” he said.

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