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Mobile slaughterhouse ready for chickens

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CANTON — What will be the nation’s only U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved mobile chicken slaughterhouse was unveiled today at Sugar Hill Farm in the town of Canton.

“This is an important transformational date for the north country,” said Renee C. Smith, North County Pastured, owner of the processor. “It’s only the first step.”

The long-awaited mobile processor will allow north country farmers interested in expanding chicken production to sell to large institutions, such as Clarkson University and United Helpers, as well as restaurants and consumers. It will be able to slaughter poultry humanely and can be set up for certified organic products.

It could also lead to more agricultural diversification and value-added products.

“We’re just scratching the surface,” said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, who was present to tour the mobile unit.

The processor has already contributed to the formation of the North Country Regional Food Hub, a corporation created by North Country Pastured and Sparx — a for-profit business started by United Helpers — whose goal is to aggregate and market local food.

The slaughterhouse — which could also process rabbits — may be why the north country came out in front in the first regional economic development competition. Officials listening to a litany of presentations all wanted to hear why the region considered a “chicken plucker” a priority project, said Anthony G. Collins, co-chairman of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“I can’t imagine something more imaginative,” he said. “I think it’s what pushed us over the hump. I still remember people sitting bolt upright.”

The processor was awarded $130,000 in the first round of funding and will create four jobs in the town of Canton.

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