There erupted on social media, a bit of a dust up....just a squall, really, concerning a few of the questions raised here recently. In particular, the Mt. McKinley Meat & Sausage facility in Palmer was extensively discussed and argued and dissected in as much detail as "we, the public" are allowed to know.
And it's damned little, no thanks in part to what passes for media bias here.
The whole story is never told, and the public never knows how big the devil is, in those details. A prime example is the labor costs, often cited as part of the reason the plant runs in the red every year. The clear implication is that the state workers are overpaid. What is not so carefully disseminated, is the real truth: The plant costs the State of Alaska nothing. Not one dime from general funds are used to support operations there, not for many years. In actuality, the Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund (ARLF) makes up any shortfall, a loss carried by the loan recipients in the form of interest they pay back to the fund. Oh I am sure some bean counter would say that the Director's time should be included-but the Director of the Division of Ag has other responsibilities to oversee-MMMS is just one of those assigned duties.
So why is it, that the "movers and shakers" in Alaska Ag, are telling only a select few: It's a done deal, the plant is closing? And why is it, they are afraid to stand up and take ownership of that statement? And why is it, that this appears to happen behind closed doors, in private conversations, in hiding, away from the light of public scrutiny? This is *our* asset, we do have the right to know what is being said, away from the farms and ranches and producers.
The clear message is that whatever the actual community decides or thinks or plans, is not relevant.
Some producers are fed up. They've given in, sold out, and left the state for more forgiving pastures elsewhere. Some are in the process because they can see the proverbial writing on the wall. Who can blame them? Some have invested much time and money, to meet the growing demands of "local food, locally grown" only to face financial ruin at the hands of the state itself-in the form of unknown policy makers. Now, with previously secret information making it's way to the surface of community discussion and knowledge, the few remaining producers are faced with a catastrophe not of their own making.
Ag is low hanging, rotten fruit, ripe for cutting from state support. MMM&S is no exception here. It's history is packed with massive, costly boondoggles that failed mostly due to bureaucrats attempting to run businesses via regulation. It makes good press, and scores political points, and serves the residents not at all. (Remember, you voted for these people)
A few people are determined to look past the failures of the past and present, and recognize that the future is limited only by imagination and effort. None of those people are in Juneau, or sit on the committees who hold the life line of the plant in their hands. They may as well be yelling to a crowd of the deaf, for all their ideas, suggestions, and solutions matter. They have no voice whatsoever, and a weak media whose nod to "investigative journalism" only includes a carefully crafted sound bite from elected and appointed officials, helps no one.
The perfect storm is coming, friends....and all those whose livelihood, whose businesses, whose hopes and dreams and plans include using the plant as needed, will be left to suffer the consequences of foolish policy which looks only to a line item in a budget-and not the unintended result. It all ties back to our unique, and high risk position: How necessary will that plant be, and every single producer of livestock....when the supply lines are severed? Whether by earthquake, or economic collapse, or terror threat, or solar storm or any number of other scenarios-who in Juneau is going to feed your family? Answer: None of them.
Necessary indeed, and those few smart folks who have been here longer than it takes to get a college degree know how to read the storm clouds on the horizon.