WANGARATTA Council administrators have been presented with an 800-signature petition supporting a $3.4 million upgrade of the city’s saleyards.
Major clients of the yards, including representatives of national meat companies, feedlot operators, farmers and Wangaratta business people have signed the petition.
It was presented to administrators Ailsa Fox, Irene Grant and Rodney Roscholler this week by a group known as the Wangaratta District Livestock Producers.
The group includes David Evans, Graeme Norman, Harvey Benton, Greg Mirabella and George Dimopoulos.
“The upgrade of the facility is not optional if it is to continue to operate,” Mr Evans said.
“It must be done.
“Producers and buyers do not share the council’s pessimistic assessment of the operation’s viability.
“The most real and immediate risk facing us is that if no action is forthcoming, the threat of competition from Barnawartha will become a self-fulfilling process.
“We appreciate that there is more work to be done in the design and costings.
“We also appreciate financing the upgrade may not be straight forward.
“But we call on council to make a strong and unequivocal commitment to action.”
Mr Evans said the saleyards were a key to the economic and agricultural fabric of the Wangaratta region.
He said 100 jobs would be secured with the upgrade.
“It is the producers’ views that the Wangaratta saleyards will remain more than competitive with a lower cost-per-head than a privately operated greenfields development at Barnawartha,” he said.
“The producers also believe that, on this basis, not only will the Wangaratta operation maintain its throughput, but has the opportunity to grow.
“Their view is supported by a report prepared for council in 2012.”
Wangaratta already has 4.8 per cent of the total livestock auction sales in Victoria.