TAS­MA­NIAN butch­ers and live­stock pro­duc­ers are call­ing for a long term-plan to help en­sure pro­cess­ing in the state.

The call comes as the fall­out from JBS’ de­ci­sion to close the Devon­port City Abat­toir on November 15 con­tin­ues.

A deal be­tween JBS and Tas­ma­nian Quality Meats to con­tinue op­er­at­ing the pork-pro­cess­ing line for an­other 12 months has been ne­go­ti­ated.

How­ever, the loss of ser­vice kills for lambs and cat­tle at Devon­port is a ma­jor blow to the state’s butch­ers and pro­duc­ers. DCA has been pro­cess­ing about 200 cat­tle and 3800 lambs a week with most supplied to butch­ers statewide.

Th­ese will have to be pro­cessed at JBS at Long­ford or TQM at Cressy, but most will be bought and sold through whole­salers due to dif­fi­cul­ties in pro­cess­ing small lots.

Brock White, co-owner of Shar­man’s Butch­ery at Burnie, said the loss of the ser­vice kills was an ab­so­lute dis­as­ter.

The busi­ness has sourced stock di­rectly from farm­ers at the lo­cal sa­le­yards or from their own Stow­port prop­erty and pro­cessed it as needed at DCA with car­casses then bro­ken down at their shop.

“If we have to go to a whole­saler or a large pro­ces­sor to buy boxed meat, we’ll be no dif­fer­ent to the su­per­mar­kets,” Mr White said.

“Our whole point of dif­fer­ence for our busi­ness is the fact we know ex­actly where our live­stock has come from, we know what quality it is and we can tell our cus­tomers that.”

He said while they had ar­range­ments with smaller pro­ces­sors, the in­dus­try needed a long-term plan for ser­vice kills. He said one op­tion could be a co-op­er­a­tive abat­toir model.

“I don’t think the full im­pact of this clo­sure is well un­der­stood,” he said.

“There are a lot of smaller pro­duc­ers who want sell their stock through the lo­cal sa­le­yards to the butcher trade.”

He said “try­ing to keep JBS up and run­ning and throw­ing more money at them” was not go­ing to fix the is­sue.

Mr White said hav­ing to buy in boxed meat would also mean job losses in the in­dus­try.

At his shop, not break­ing down the car­casses would equate to two and a half full­time jobs lost.

“This is the loss of skill in the in­dus­try and it’s al­ready a dy­ing art that we’re try­ing to keep alive.”

Butcher-shop owner Rod­ney Miles agrees the loss of ser­vice kills is a huge blow.

“Most butch­ers want to be able to go to the sa­le­yards and buy their own stock. or have their agent buy them, be­cause they know what they’re get­ting,” he said.

“They can deal with the whole car­casses as they see fit, de­pend­ing on what their cus­tomers want.”

Mr Miles also buys about 15 cat­tle a week at the Quoiba sale for south­ern butcher shops – all of which have been pro­cessed at DCA.

Min­is­ter for State Growth Peter Gutwein said ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween TQM and JBS were pro­gress­ing for a seam­less tran­si­tion af­ter November 15 for the DCA pork line.

He said a num­ber of other fa­cil­i­ties had come for­ward to of­fer their ser­vices. Last night a meet­ing was planned in the North-West to dis­cuss op­tions.

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