Abattoirs: Part 1 of levelling the paddock

Part 1 of levelling the paddock … for ALL plates to fit comfortably: Abattoirs

Big Picture: In late 2015 I put my hand up for election to the National Committee of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance ]AFSA} with my agenda to be in the know about what was happening within the food sovereignty movement in Victoria [Australia] and to make a contribution as an advocate for change.

As most of you, within my network, know there are numerous regulatory issues to be resolved to make the playing field fair for small farms and ancillary businesses – not just fair for the large corporate industrial producers.

During my stint on the AFSA committee I voiced the two main needs for Wyalong Farm’s enterprise: Gannawarra Gourmet Goat [gggoat.com.au]

  • Number 1 is the provision of a smaller-producer-friendly, accessible abattoir which this post is about.
  • Number 2 [Part 2] is finding a suitable sales system/s for farmers who – like myself, but for whatever their reason – are unable to sell their own produce in-person. Thus they are forced to continue selling through the saleyard system.

Later last year after networking for over three years within the Food Sovereignty Community – from Swan Hill to Melbourne and beyond – I came home tail between my legs. Back to square one for me but I had discovered I wasn’t going to make a change in my neck of the woods on my own.

Fortunately, and timely, the State and Federal governments are coming onboard to assist community farming initiatives to address Number 1 – abattoir – and for farmers, especially within Gannawarra and Murray River Shires, who want to process and distribute their own product Lauren Mathers is once again putting herself out there.

Update 18 October, 2017: we are celebrating today as Lauren, who has been campaigning for a Micro Processing Unit [MPU / micro-abattoir], shares a photo on Facebook of the now predetermined site adding:

“Good news for our farmer group! The site for a co-op owned and operated multispecies micro abattoir at Barham.”

The need was recently heightened in our Gannawarra Shire with the closure of the local abattoir. Located 75 kilometres from my property, they did not take goats anyway as to retrofit for yard height regulations was beyond their means.

“The McGillivray Abattoir at Gunbower will close its doors this time next week after 60 years of operation. The closure will result in significant job losses and leave butcher shops, farmers and paddock-to-plate business without a local small-scale option to have their animals slaughtered”, The Gannawarra Times announced in February 2017.

Swan Hill abattoir, 60 kilometres in the ‘wrong’ direction, however, has had a huge expansion, is operating well, and is good for overseas consumers.

“The investment is helping transform the Swan Hill abattoir from a domestic to an export focused meat processing facility”, said The Victorian Premier’s news release.

When I spoke with Swan Hill the logistics did not fit my small operation as their smaller vehicle deliveries has become unviable, it is semi loads to Sydney [which I’m told is always full] or Melbourne with selective deliveries along the way.

It is all about demand and smaller farms are smaller producers – but this niche small farmer market is gaining momentum and I proudly observe as I help advocate for those change-makers and connectors who are making it happen.

Lauren was instrumental in founding the Koondrook / Barham Farmers Market and operates Bundarra Berkshires and an on-farm butchery with her family in Barham.

Lauren’s business has expanded and now has a butcher employed in addition to herself and I am in liaison to develop my product. Lauren is set to distribute for me but unfortunately until we have a local abattoir I will need to transport my stock to Echuca – 120 kms away.

My two attempts to deliver to Kyneton abattoir (220 kilometres away), with the carcasses forwarded to Jonai Farms, was a nightmare [read below] – but worth the trial as Tammi Jonas is an insightful inspiration.

Which brings me to my second need:

Part 2 of levelling the paddock for ALL plates to fit comfortably: finding a suitable sales system/s for farmers who are unable sell their own produce in-person.

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