More northern plants under consideration

James Nason, 21/07/2011

The NorthBeef proposal for a new abattoir in north western Queensland is one of a number of meat processing development projects being considered for Northern Australia.

Australia’s largest cattle producer, the Australian Agricultural Company, has publicly flagged its interest in developing an abattoir in Darwin.

Its plans are progressing with the company recently stating that is has secured investors for the project.

It recently ran advertisements seeking to recruit an abattoir operations manager.

AA Co managing director David Farley has stated that a new northern meatworks is urgently needed to provide another market opportunity for northern producers.

"A new plant will add greater commercial competition and pricing opportunities for northern producers," he said.

 In Western Australia a pre-feasibility study into the potential for a beef processing plant to service the northern rangelands last year found that an abattoir would be” great benefit” to northern producers, but would need a significant commitment from industry to be commercially viable.

WA agriculture minister Terry Redman has asked the WA Beef Council to further investigate what changes would be needed in the northern WA cattle industry to support a northern abattoir.

Former LiveCorp chief executive Cameron Hall told the Northern Territory media last month that a northern abattoir could struggle to find adequate labour reserves, and would also face the same challenges that live exporters faced in trying to secure cattle during the peak of the wet season.

"If a meatworks in the north was going to be economically viable, I can't see why someone has not already launched into it," Mr Hall told the NT News in June.

"One of the real challenges is having a supply of cattle 52 weeks of the year. You can't shut down an operation of that magnitude for 4 1/2 to five months a year."

He added that the live export industry would support a northern abattoir if someone could make it work.

"We would like to see it work. There are always going to be animals that should not be exported because they are too old or don't have the temperament to go on a vessel," he said.

"But I don't agree with that view some people have that we can put it all out of Australia in a box and have no impact on jobs and markets," he said.




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