$5m loan to fund WAMMCO up­grades

Great Southern Herald - - News - Jenne Bram­mer

The WA Meat Mar­ket­ing Co­op­er­a­tive has wel­comed a $5 mil­lion loan from the State Govern­ment but says it will not have a big im­pact on build­ing ex­port mar­kets.

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan said yes­ter­day the Co-op­er­a­tive Loan Scheme would pro­vide $5 mil­lion for cap­i­tal works at the Katan­ning pro­cess­ing plant, to ex­pand ca­pac­ity to process higher-value chilled sheep­meat.

Co-op­er­a­tive chair­man Craig Heg­ga­ton said works sched­uled were noth­ing out­side the pro­ces­sor’s longert­erm plan and so would not fa­cil­i­tate in­creased pro­cess­ing for ex­port amid threats to the live trade.

He said the pro­ces­sor had ac­cessed loans un­der the scheme on sev­eral oc­ca­sions as part of an ar­range­ment that had been in place for about a decade.

“Our big­gest chal­lenge or lim­it­ing fac­tor is staff,” Dr Heg­ga­ton said. “If the Govern­ment could do some­thing to help on that front, it would be very use­ful.”

A short­age of labour re­mains one of the plant’s most press­ing prob­lems.

Although WAMMCO em­ploys 300 peo­ple, it wants to re­cruit a fur­ther 30, but is strug­gling to source staff.

The $5 mil­lion loan will be spent on buy­ing a dual energy X-ray ab­sorp­tiom­e­try ma­chine, meat meal shaker ma­chines, and up­grades to the bon­ing room and elec­tric­ity sup­ply.

Ex­pected to be the first in WA, the DEXA X-ray tech­nol­ogy will pro­vide ob­jec­tive mea­sure­ment feed­back about lean meat, bone and fat con­tent of each car­cass to Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia and pro­duc­ers, which is valu­able in help­ing to im­prove sheep pro­duc­tion and ef­fi­ciency, and there­fore re­turns.

Ms MacTier­nan said up­grades to the bon­ing room would in­clude a new vac­uum pack­ing ma­chine to in­crease ca­pac­ity and ex­ports of high­value WA chilled sheep­meat.

The plant re­opened this week af­ter a re­cent $4 mil­lion an­nual main­te­nance pro­gram which in­cluded up­grades.

New works from the $5 mil­lion loan will be ad­di­tional to these en­hance­ments, which in­volved up­grades to the bon­ing room, re­frig­er­a­tion and power sys­tem to al­low for more value-adding of ex­ist­ing prod­uct and to process live ship­ping and other cat­e­gories of live­stock if re­quired.

Lo­cal con­trac­tors will be pri­ori­tised to un­der­take the ad­di­tional works, pro­vid­ing a boost for lo­cal jobs in Katan­ning.

Pic­ture: Bob Gar­nant

WAMMCO chair­man Craig Heg­ga­ton.

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