JBS has advised the Government of its intention to permanently cease being the operator of its Devonport City Abattoir on 15 November 2018.

JBS has agreed to operate the plant until 15 November in order for discussions to commence with the Tasmanian Government and the industry around options for a potential third-party to operate the Devonport pig line post the closure by JBS and also to allow Government, together with the pig industry to work through future long term and transition arrangements.

The Devonport City Abattoir has been operated since 2008 by JBS as a service kill facility for third party customers who supply their own livestock for processing. The Devonport facility processes most of Tasmania’s pigs, as well as some lambs, sheep and a small number of cattle.

The Government will now work with JBS to support its workforce to transition, where possible, to another operator or other employment and skills development opportunities in the region.

The Government is focused on ensuring to the greatest possible extent the State maintains viable on-island meat processing capacity as well as the local jobs that it supports.

The pig industry is an important part of the Tasmanian agricultural sector and the Government will immediately begin work with the Tasmanian Island Pork Alliance, the TFGA, pork producers and those affected to help develop a viable longer term processing model.

With regard to lamb, sheep and cattle currently processed at the Devonport facility, this should be able to be accommodated in other processing facilities on or off-island. The impact on lamb producers could be more significant and the Government may need to explore with producers alternative options for lamb processing.

We are confident that the meat industry, which accounts for about 20 per cent of our total agricultural production, has a bright future.

In September the Government facilitated another meat supply-chain roundtable with growers, livestock agents, processors and transporters to consider future growth strategies.

This year’s State Budget included $1 million to increase trade, marketing, value and sales of Tasmanian meat, building on the $690,000 pastures and livestock productivity project announced in December last year to increase livestock production.