Demands to run forum for farmers’ beef over the future of Wangaratta Saleyards

FUTURE UNDER DISCUSSION: Producers and agents want a say in the future of the Wangaratta Saleyards, now the proposed co-operative is off the table.

FUTURE UNDER DISCUSSION: Producers and agents want a say in the future of the Wangaratta Saleyards, now the proposed co-operative is off the table.

Producers appear likely to get their way and force Wangaratta Council to hold a public forum on the future of the saleyards.

Councillors at Tuesday’s meeting voted unanimously to put a plan for an “arm’s length entity” out for public comment.

The proposal would keep the saleyards owned by the council, but have it run by stakeholders as a separate business under a skills-based board.

Myrrhee producer David Evans told the meeting that members of the Victorian Farmers Federation Wangaratta branch met on Monday night and were unhappy with just a four-week consultation period.

“I certainly believe a proper forum is necessary so you bring the public with you and have full and proper discussion,” he said.

Mr Evans argued producers, agents and buyers should all be consulted properly.

“Yes there is a sense of urgency. I think we’ve wasted a fair bit of time already getting to this particular point,” he said.

“The past five years (of discussing the saleyards’ future) have been appallingly slow.”

Cr Dean Rees responded by proposing an extra two weeks of consultation, which was accepted.

“We’ll look further into a public forum at some stage to discuss the issues that the vendors and the stock agents together, and also the buyers, have,” he said.

Although he said he believed the arm’s length entity was the best response from the council, a final decision would not be made without consulation.

Cr Harry Bussell encouraged others to support the concept of a new system of management for what he said was a “very important public facility”.

​”It’s of great economic value to all the retailers in Wangaratta – not just for the farmers, not just for a few, but everyone shares the benefits of this facility,” he said.

Chief executive Brendan McGrath said councillors and staff would discuss how the consultation process would work. “The timing reflects the urgency of councillors to resolve what’s been a long-standing issue and a long period of uncertainty about the way forward,” he said.

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