ALEXANDER  — Northern Maine farmers who want to raise beef could get a boost from a new certified slaughterhouse due to open in Alexander to serve farmers in Washington and southern Aroostook counties.

Elizabeth Sprague of the Down East Business Alliance says many farmers in the region limited the number of animals they raised in spite of heavy demand for local meat because the closest inspected slaughter facilities are hours away.

Clayton and Catherine Blake of Blake’s Slaughtering and Custom Meats in Alexander are going to expand their facility with help from a $123,000 grant from the Finance Authority of Maine.

Previously, the facility only custom-slaughtered animals for private use. Clayton Blake tells the Bangor Daily News the expansion will mean up to seven new jobs and enable area farmers to grow.