Meat co-op builds support
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.