WORKS CLOSURE BLOW TO BUTCHERS
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.