WA’S two farm representative groups are split on the merit of establishing a producer-owned abattoir.
The push for such an abattoir has gathered momentum since the idea was raised at the recent red meat crisis meeting held in Bunbury.
Producers believe funds from the recent sale of part of the Midland Saleyards site could be used to establish the abattoir. This sale reaped $70 million with the remainder of the land expected to make a further $30m.
While WAFarmers meat section president Mike Norton said the idea had merit, his Pastoralists and Graziers counterpart, Tim D’Arcy, believes it isn’t the way to go.
Mr Norton said the call for a producer-owned abattoir had attracted the most interest out of all the motions raised at the meeting.
“Producers feel that it is time to take control of the industry,” he said. “Some producer abattoirs in the past haven’t had a good track record, but a lot of commercial abattoirs haven’t been successful either.”
Mr Norton said the WA Meat Marketing Co-operative (WAMMCO) was a good example of a successful grower-owned abattoir.
“As long as there is a good management structure at the top and producers stay out of the day to day running of the operation it can work,” he said.
“There are not many options for processing old cows and bulls in WA and the establishment of a small hot boning floor close to a major saleyard could alleviate some of the problem.”
Mr D’Arcy said he would prefer to see private investors come in and build an abattoir.
“There are potentially two new abattoirs that could come on line in the next two years,” he said.
“They are T&R Pastoral’s North Dandalup abattoir and the Craig Mostyn Group’s Linley Valley proposal.
“These would both be export accredited works, which are desperately needed in this state.
“At the moment WA is severely lacking processing space for older cows and bulls and these two works could carry out some of that processing.
“If these two plants do come on line, do we need a producer-owned service kill abattoir as well?”
Mr D’Arcy said abattoirs, if not run efficiently, could lose a lot of money.
“It would take a very organi-sed group of producers to get it up and running,” he said.
“I think WAMMCO has been a partial success, but I believe it has lost money over the years.”