State looks to sell southcentral meat plant

PALMER — The state is seeking a new owner for the only federally approved slaughterhouse in southcentral Alaska, as funding for the facility could run out this year due to legislative budget cuts.

The state Board of Agriculture and Conservation has issued a request for proposals to lease and operate the state-funded Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage Plant in Palmer. The proposed lease arrangement also includes an option to purchase the facility, The Alaska Public Radio Network reported.

Elizabeth Bluemink, spokeswoman for Alaska Department of Natural Resources, said there is $2.05 million in this year’s budget for the plant.

“DNR’s budget has mostly been settled, it still could be reopened. Currently, the status is that we have intent language that has been approved for the Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage plant as well as a funding level that would carry us through the upcoming fiscal year,” Bluemink said.

Mt. McKinley is the only slaughterhouse in the area where livestock producers can obtain a U.S. Department of Agriculture stamp of approval, allowing meat to be sold commercially.

Bluemink said one-time increment funding is being considered so the meat plant can operate while lease negotiations take place.

The Board of Agriculture and Conservation is looking to put the meat packing plant under private ownership as long as it continues to operate as a slaughterhouse. The board is accepting proposals through July 11.

Previous efforts to privatize the meat plant took place in 2000, 2002 and 2006, but no proposals were approved at those times.

Mt. McKinley has lost an average of $110,000 each year for a decade except for 2014, when it earned $155,000 in profits.

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This story has been corrected to indicate that Palmer is in southcentral Alaska. Also, the slaughterhouse provides USDA inspections, allowing meat to be sold commercially, but is not the only place where the meat is sold.

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Information from: KSKA-FM, http://www.kska.org

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Information from: KSKA-FM, http://www.kska.org

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