Study into planned Central Highlands meatworks on table
WITH Christmas coming, a lot of people have their minds on turkey and ham - but the Central Highlands Regional Council is firmly focused on steak.
A feasibility study looking into a proposed meatworks west of Emerald is set to be presented to the council in January, and Mayor Peter Maguire said benefits to producers would become clear.
"The amount of money that people have to spend now to get their cattle to the meatworks ... in some cases they are being trucked to Casino in New South Wales," Cr Maguire said.
"We are trying to assist the cattle industry so that more money goes in their pocket."
Clermont cattle producer Peter Anderson, who owns Glenlea, said some producers had been waiting up to two months to get their cattle into a meatworks.
"It's devastating really, when you've taken the hard decision to sell stock, usually earlier or lighter than you should, and then having to wait two months with very little grass in the paddock while they're eating grass other animals should be eating... it's devastating."
Mr Anderson said he was "very glad" the CHRC had ordered a feasibility study.
"I think it's (the meatworks) a good thing to be looked at, but we do need a proper feasibility study before anyone gets too excited," he said. "Emerald isn't a bad place.
"There's cattle from the west and some good country through Rolleston and Springsure, then you've got Clermont cattle that can come down.
"You can really draw from the north, south, east and west."
Cr Maguire said the council had been told it could expect about 100,000 head a year through a facility.
But the CHRC is not the only council looking into developing a meatworks, with Gladstone also discussing the possibility.
"Our council has decided to go ahead with this, but some others are looking at going ahead with possible financial support from the State Government," Cr Maguire said.
"We want to have control over the whole process."
The council will officially receive the feasibility study at a council meeting early next year, which includes an analysis of the proposed site, a layout and floor plan.
"We have identified a block of land which is potentially available, we just have to go through the State Government to take it from leasehold to freehold.
"So then we can talk to any potential investors."
Mr Anderson said there was definitely a need for another meatworks.
"Last year we saw a distinct lack of killing capacity or space and people were in the height of the dry," he said.
"I think competition in the market is a good thing."