What is Project Clementine? Prince Edward construction set to start

Published 12:51 am Friday, February 17, 2023

Construction on a Prince Edward County project aimed at solving the lack of meat processing facilities in Southern Virginia is set to begin in a few months. Once it’s completed, more than a thousand of the area’s meat producers will have access to it. Dubbed “Project Clementine,” the Prince Edward County facility will be located in the county’s Industrial Park.

County Administrator Doug Stanley says it’s not only a great opportunity for Prince Edward, but also the region.

“One of the big issues with farmers raising livestock is there’s no local place that’s USDA certified for slaughter,” Stanley said. “This certification allows them to sell to restaurants and stores.”

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The Virginia Tobacco Commission provided a $75,000 grant, and Vicki Humphreys, the Commission’s Grants Director, said the project fit into their guidelines so they could fund about 25 percent of what the facility’s equipment cost would be.

“There’s just a real shortage for value-added meat processing facilities, and we’re looking at creative ways to address that,” Humphrey’s said.

In addition to the grant funds, Prince Edward also submitted a proposal grant program called Agriculture Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).

Project Clementine offers help

In a region where the demand is high, the new 32’ x 92’ facility is expected to go a long way toward keeping family farmers and small ruminant producers in business. The operations will focus on two objectives: 

1) fee processing of beef, lamb, and goats for local Southside Virginia producers

2) processing and manufacturing of wholesale and retail cuts for local restaurants, hotels, and grocers as well as retail consumers especially seeking Halal meats.

The Tobacco Commission’s Jordan Butler says this could save farmers time, money and energy, and most importantly, keep them in business.

“If you’re having to wait an unpredictable amount of time, sometimes more than a year, to have your animals processed, and then you have to transport them hundreds of miles to do so, that’s just a cost that’s not sustainable for a lot of these cattle farming operations,” Butler said.

It’s something Stanley has witnessed first-hand.

“Right now, from the date the calf is born, farmers have to get a slaughter date in order to get scheduled,” Stanley said. “So there’s just not enough volume in that industry to take care of the need for the region.”

A focus on meat processing 

Humphreys says at the Commission’s upcoming May Southwest Virginia cycle, they’re going to be exclusively focused on projects that increase the capacity for meat processing in the state’s SW region, as it keeps dollars in Virginia.

“We’re looking at creative ways to address the shortage,” she said.

They believe there will be a lot of activity at the 2.5 acre site in Prince Edward County over the next few months, with a formal announcement forthcoming.