$450,000 grant awarded for Murray River Council to build micro-abattoir in Barham

By Anna McGuinness

MURRAY River Council has received $450,000 towards Barham’s micro-abattoir project under the Federal Government’s Murray-Darling Basin economic program.

The project will see the construction of a new modular multi-species facility to service southern NSW pork, lamb, beef, goat and poultry “paddock to plate” producers.

This latest grant brings the total funding so far for the project to $825,000.

Murray Plains Meat Cooperative chair Lauren Mathers said while costings for the micro abattoir had not been completed, the grants could potentially pay for total construction.

She said it pushed the project forward to the planning and tender stages earlier than anticipated.

Land must also be purchased for the project, she confirmed.

“The grants will pay for the construction, and the co-operative will raise money for the purchase of the four hectares of land we have selected for the project (on Gonn Rd, near Barham),” Ms Mathers said.

“We have 24 members at the moment and others are interested, but understandably they have been hesitant to join the co-op until we progressed the project further.

“This money should give people more confidence to join and allow us to move forward, to the point where we think we may be able to go to tender very soon.

“We expect to discuss the next steps in more detail at our next meeting (this Thursday),” she said.

Murray River Council Mayor Chris Bilkey welcomed the funding.

“It’s pleasing to see the Federal Government throw their support behind this project, recognising this is all about supporting local job creation and skills development,” he said.

“The local meat and poultry industry provides significant employment opportunities in Barham and the district, so we are pleased to be able to help our producers remain viable through the development of the micro-abattoir.”

Murray River Council will oversee the build of the micro-abattoir on Gonn Rd near Barham on behalf of Murray Plains Meat Cooperative.

The co-operative is a group of 19 local meat producers and was formed in response to the closure of local abattoirs across the region in Gunbower, Pyramid Hill, Deniliquin and Echuca.

Following feasibility investigations, the multi-species abattoir was deemed the most innovative and cost-effective model available for local farmers who are seeking to grow, process, package and market livestock.

Construction of the facility will reduce freight costs, provide a more humane processing experience, improve carcase and meat quality and improve producer and regional business viability while supporting local employment.

“This project will be a positive economic driver for the region, helping to maintain and create new jobs,” Cr Bilkey said.

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