THE Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has been urged to intervene to help resolve a stalemate surrounding the construction of livestock saleyards in the North West.
The impasse within the North West Community Market committee is the result of a difference of opinion as to where a new proposed livestock saleyard should be located.
The disagreement resulted in the resignation of the former chairman Mike Badcock and some committee members.
Two groups now exist, with the splintered group favouring a site at the former Wesley Vale Pulp Mill, while the remaining committee members support the construction of a sale yard at Minna Road, near Stowport and have continued with plans for that development.
The TFGA has said it “would not be prudent” to support one individual proposal over another at this time.
In a letter Forth farmer Lauchland Avery, who supports the Wesley Vale development, expressed disappointment in the TFGA’s lack of a decision and failure to represent their members, not understanding the importance of saleyards to the farming community.
“These organisations are set up to represent the community and industry and should represent all groups,” Mr Avery said.
“They should be aware of issues such as mental health of farmers, emergency management concerns, lack of biodiversity facilities, lack of NLIS traceability, what is happening with bobby calves, pigs and a whole range of unforeseen consequences from a lack of such a facility in the area.
“Not to grasp these issues when made fully aware of the problems is I believe akin to neglect and exposes this area to being unable to cope with emergencies involving livestock.”
The TFGA did acknowledge that a livestock marshalling facility, truck wash and depot in the North West would provide positives outcomes for the industry in terms of biosecurity and animal welfare.
Mr Badcock, who represents the Wesley Vale committee, has directly called on the Minna Road group to put forward plans that match those released by the Wesley Vale group to display their legitimacy to the community and potentially make negotiations and decisions easier.
“We’ve had responses from nearly 200 farmers indicating support for the saleyards at Mill Park, we’ve used info to build an economic analysis, which indicates a community owned and run saleyard would be viable moving forward,” Mr Badcock said.
“We have the correct zoning, support from the Latrobe Council, we will only need extra funding to manage the start of the project.
“One of the biggest hold ups for us finding funding is the Minna Road group. “They’ve had two years to put a submission out that is as good or better than ours, if they do, and it is, we may well go along with it.”
Mr Badcock did indicate the re-opening of the Quoiba Saleyards, which were closed by owners Nutrien in 2020, would mitigate the issues the parties were facing.
“Of course, Quoiba re-opening would fix all the problems we’re facing and the first thing we did as a group was to try to get Quoiba up and running again,” Mr Badcock said.
“We talked to Nutrien, we made offers, we asked to lease the site but they were not interested.
“Unfortunately, they’ve made their decision, there’s no negotiating.”
The Quoiba Saleyards were closed in 2020 with Nutrien aiming to centralise Tasmanian livestock sales at their Powranna site.
Nutrien reinforced their reasonings behind centralising their sales.
“Nutrien Ag Solutions had important key objectives when we moved to a centralised selling centre in Tasmania – increasing competition and prices for Tasmanian livestock producers and improving the comfort, wellbeing and safety of animals and livestock personnel,” a spokesperson said.
“We are pleased to report the Tasmania Livestock Exchange (TLX) has recorded strong and successful sales since its first sale in September 2020.
“The increased buyer competition through a single selling centre has benefited vendors and purchasers from both Tasmania and the mainland.”
Members of the Minna Road group have been contacted for comment.