Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLIN MAC­GRE­GOR

THERE are calls for the State Govern­ment to do more to help Tas­ma­nia’s red-meat in­dus­try as back­ing for a co-op­er­a­tive abat­toir grows.

The com­ments fol­low the clo­sure of the Devon­port City Abat­toir’s sheep and cat­tle line, which has left the state with just one ma­jor sheep pro­ces­sor.

Each year be­tween 500,000 and 700,000 sheep leave the state to be pro­cessed in­ter­state.

Some in the in­dus­try say now is the time look at op­por­tu­ni­ties for a Tas­ma­nian-branded lamb pro­gram, where an­i­mals are pro­cessed and value added in the state.

Long-time skin buyer and sheep pro­ducer Doug Dick­in­son said he had been con­cerned about the di­rec­tion of the state’s meat in­dus­try for a the past three years.

De­spite rais­ing his con­cerns with the State Govern­ment a num­ber of times, Mr Dick­in­son said so far noth­ing had been done to ad­dress them.

“It’s a dread­ful sit­u­a­tion they’ve put the farm­ers in and the Govern­ment have sat on their hands the whole time and let it hap­pen,” he said.

Mr Dick­in­son said it was a missed op­por­tu­nity the Govern­ment did not ac­quire DCA.

He said now was the time to look at ways to process more sheep in the state, in­clud­ing a new ex­port-ac­cred­ited, mul­ti­species abat­toir.

“We pro­duce the best lamb in Aus­tralia. Why aren't we mar­ket­ing and sell­ing it and pay­ing a bet­ter price to the farm­ers?” he said.

“There’s a tremen­dous de­mand for the product.”

Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion meat coun­cil chair­man Chris Gunn said while he had not heard of of­fi­cial plans to de­velop a co-op, the idea should be con­sid­ered.

“I’ve heard ru­mours but there’s noth­ing I’ve seen that has come through the TFGA, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hap­pen­ing,” he said.

“It's worth look­ing into and some­thing that should have been looked into. Up un­til now we’ve left it up to the pro­ces­sors to do our mar­ket­ing and they have done a good job with beef,” Mr Gunn said.

Primary In­dus­tries Min­is­ter Guy Bar­nett said a co-op abat­toir was one op­tion to be con­sid­ered by the newly formed meat-in­dus­try work­ing group.

The group met last week and en­dorsed sup­port for lo­cal abat­toirs to main­tain sup­ply in the short term as well as com­mis­sion­ing an over­view of the sec­tor and a fea­si­bil­ity study into fu­ture pro­cess­ing op­tions.

Chair Leonie His­cutt said the group would con­sult widely.

“We will ap­proach key stake­hold­ers di­rectly, and we will also be con­duct­ing lis­ten­ing posts at sa­le­yards around the state to en­able any­one in­ter­ested to have their say.”

The TFGA has also formed its own red-meat com­mit­tee.

Mr Gunn said the aim was to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion and feed­back from farm­ers and oth­ers in the in­dus­try such as trans­port op­er­a­tors and agents to the work­ing group.

“We want ev­ery­one in the sup­ply chain to ben­e­fit, not just farm­ers,” he said.

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