CO-OP ABATTOIR MOOTED
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.