A selection of King Island producers – King Island Multi-Species Abattoir Group, is expected to finalise the purchase of land this week with plans to have the abattoir up and running within three months time.
The ex JBS Swift abattoir which is located at Currie was closed in September last year, resulting in the island’s farmers having to ship their cattle to the JBS Longford plant.
Chairman of the King Island Multi-Species Abattoir Group, Chris Porter said that the opening of the abattoir will be highly beneficial to local producers especially in regards to avoiding costly freight charges to the mainland, however the project is somewhat dependant on government funding, The Weekly Times Now reports.
Porter says that the state government made a commitment to provide funding for the project last year and that a figure of around $1m was spoken about, but never made official or put in writing. However Porter believes that they may be able to complete the project for less than that figure.
“We are now at the situation where subject to the approval of government funding, we will be ready to call for tenders Australia wide for an operator,” said Porter.
“One of the functions of the abattoir will be to slaughter unshippable cattle and there’s a big back log of those on the island.
“We have the support from smaller producers and plan to slaughter cattle, lambs but also wallabies suitable for the human consumption market.”
As a proposed solution to costly freight charges, the Tasmanian Government offered to provide $30 per head of King Island Cattle shipped to the mainland for processing, providing that producers met the Target 120 program run by the Department of Primary Industries Parks Water and Environment.
Porter says that figures set out by the DPI are not viable for smaller producers and that the new producer run abattoir is a far better solution for local farmers.
“Whilst it looks like a fine gesture from the government, in real terms, people with small number so cattle to ship will find that entering into this project to access the funds will be too much work and trouble,” he said.
Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister, Bryan Green said that the DPI’s cattle transport initiative was developed to help producers increase profitability.
“By taking part in the program they will also receive $30 per head of cattle to offset transport costs and improve productivity,” Mr Green said.
“We are working with farmers to help them lift profitability and sustain beef production on the island for the long-term.”