If you know how to cut meat, the state has a business you might be interested in. The state’s Board of Agriculture and Conservation has issued a request for proposals to lease and operate the Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage Plant in Palmer. The proposed lease arrangement includes an option to purchase the plant.
Mt. McKinley is the only US Department of Agriculture approved slaughterhouse in Southcentral Alaska, and without it, livestock producers in the area will not be able to sell meat commercially. The plant depends on state funding to keep its doors open, and that funding could dry up this year due to legislative budget cuts.
Elizabeth Bluemink, spokesperson for the state Department of Natural Resources, says right now there is $2.05 million in this year’s DNR budget dedicated to the plant.
“DNR’s budget has mostly be 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.”
The budget is currently in conference committee. Bluemink says the conference committee has adopted intent language which would allow for a one-time increment funding for the meat plant for the next fiscal year to allow the plant to operate while negotiations for a lease are in progress.
“The intent language is really important, because that is partly what is partly what is driving the process that is going on right now for the RFP for the meat plant. ”
The BAC wants to put the meat packing plant into private ownership, with the contingent that it continues to operate as a slaughterhouse. The plant is an asset of the state’s Agricultural Revolving Loan Fund. Deadline for the submitting a proposal is July 11.
Previous efforts to privatize the meat plant by issuing RFPs for lease or sale took place in 2000, 2002 and 2006. No acceptable proposals were received at those times.
Salaries for three permanent employees at the meat plant cost about $360,000 annually. Mt. McKinley has lost an average of $110,000 a year every year for a decade except for 2014, when it earned $155,000 in profits.