Meat co-op builds sup­port

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

FARM­ERS have banded to­gether to fix the state’s pro­cess­ing woes with plans for a new abat­toir run by a co-oper­a­tive and a Tas­ma­nian meat brand.

Ear­lier this week about 45 pro­duc­ers and in­dus­try representatives met to dis­cuss short and long-term op­tions.

They say the clo­sure of JBS’s Devon­port City Abat­toir high­lighted vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the state’s red-meat sec­tor, which now re­lies heav­ily on ship­ping live­stock out of the state for pro­cess­ing

The group formed the Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers Co-oper­a­tive, which will be headed up by a seven-mem­ber com­mit­tee led by beef pro­ducer Brad Rigney.

To­day, let­ters from the group will be de­liv­ered to Premier Will Hodg­man and Pri­mary In­dus­tries Minister Guy Bar­nett out­lin­ing its plans and suggest­ing op­tions.

Mr Rigney runs a beef busi­ness with his partner Jenny Dol­ley and busi­ness partner Eric Brosell at Rocky Cape.

He has worked for meat co­op­er­a­tives in Aus­tralia and over­seas and said there was huge po­ten­tial in Tas­ma­nia.

Mr Rigney said pro­duc­ers across the state wanted to get in­volved.

“We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground and be sen­si­ble about it, but there is a lot of po­ten­tial in this,” he said.

He said ver­ti­cally in­te­grated busi­nesses had proven to be suc­cess­ful.

“We need to have control of our prod­ucts for as long as we can be­cause that's how you make money.

“The whole aim be­hind this is to get a bet­ter price for our pro­duc­ers,” Mr Rigney said.

Farm­ers would al­ways own the ma­jor­ity of the co-op, but other in­dus­try play­ers like trans­port op­er­a­tors and butch­ers could also be mem­bers.

The abat­toir would process beef, lambs, mut­ton and calves and be ac­cred­ited for ex­port.

Abat­toir prod­ucts are to be mar­keted un­der a Tas­ma­nian brand but there are also to be ser­vice-kill fa­cil­i­ties for butch­ers and niche pro­duc­ers.

Mr Rigney said the plan was for a price sys­tem that would re­ward pro­duc­ers with pre­mi­ums for top-qual­ity live­stock.

There are some ideas on the ta­ble re­gard­ing the lo­ca­tion of the pro­posed new meat­works.

“It would be great to fill the void if we could get hold of Devon­port and it was dis­ap­point­ing that was let go.”

Mr Rigney said the pulp­mill site at Wes­ley Vale could also be an­other op­tion.

He es­ti­mates build­ing a new fa­cil­ity would cost around $10 mil­lion to $15 mil­lion.

“We’ve go the pro­posal, we know what we want to do, we’ve got sup­port from the pow­ers that be and we know we’ve got fi­nan­cial sup­port so it’s go­ing to hap­pen,” he said.

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