Plans Move Forward For Construction Of Meat Processing Facility In Newberry

Apr 25, 2023

By Bianca Papa

For 35 years, the Heart of Florida Farms has been breeding champions.

Tucked away down the back roads of Alachua, Florida, is where the 78-year-old breeder, Clint Robinson, of champion cub calves, resides.

Robinson took over Heart of Florida Farms when he moved from Gainesville to Alachua in 1985. Robinson makes his living by breeding steers and heifers and entering them into annual cub calf auctions, yet he also sells his own natural beef from the calves he raises at his farm.

Recently, Robinson has been struggling with getting his beef processed in a timely manner due to the wait times at processing facilities and their far proximity. Local producers can wait up to eight months before even getting their meat processed.

Yet, these waits could come to an end for Robinson and other farmers in Alachua County. On April 4, the Alachua County Commission voted 4-1 to move forward with the building of a Meat Processing Facility in Newberry, a project that started back in June 2021.

“I can’t get my cattle processed in a timely manner right now, so I have to go out of the county and the costs are mind boggling,” Robinson said.

The plans for the county to build and own this meat processing facility stemmed from concerns about the nationwide supply chain issues that occurred since the beginning of COVID-19. The facility’s goal is to provide new and expanded markets for small ranchers raising cattle, goats, sheep and hogs within 100 miles of Alachua County.

Yet, this facility is also stirring some controversy in the county among animal activists and vegans. Cody Yelton, 43, a native to Alachua County attended the county commission meeting on April 4 and voiced her strong opinions against what she referred to as a “slaughterhouse.”

“It’s absurd. We say we care about animals, but these people are being cruel to them by putting them in these facilities,” Yelton said.

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