Victoria Chicken Meat Industry at Risk Following Inghams Fire
The Victorian Farmers Federation’s (VFF) Chicken Meat Group has raised concerns that the recent destruction of the Inghams Somerville plant by fire has the potential to compromise Victoria’s position as the second largest chicken meat producer in Australia.
VFF Chicken Meat Group President Mr Shaw said that the Ingham’s plant was a major contributor to Victoria’s economy, representing one third of the state’s chicken meat production and accounting for more than 117 million birds annually.
“The future of a large percentage of Victoria’s poultry farms is now in jeopardy as are the jobs of the workers and the contractors who provide services to the company,” Mr Shaw said.
“While we are pleased to see early action by the State and Local Governments we need to seek assurances that this action will be supported by programs that will help get this sector of the industry back on its feet.
“Industry and farm assistance packages, worker retraining programs and a long term commitment from government organisations are the key to ensuring Victoria retains its position as a major player in the chicken meat industry.
“Positive government involvement could also see the rebuilding of the plant fast tracked to ensure production returned to normal with minimum delay. The quicker the plant is rebuilt the quicker Inghams workers can return to their jobs and the more certain the future will be for Victorian chicken farmers.
“A successful rebuilding program requires a lot of behind the scenes work and it is this area that government can help through assisting in the planning approval process to ensure each stage of the work flows smoothly.
“We understand that that the Minister for Regional and Rural Development Jacinta Allan has requested a meeting with Ingham’s management to gain firsthand knowledge of the present situation. We trust that this is just the start of a committed government involvement in the situation.
“We also welcome the action of the Mornington Peninsula Shire in assembling a Task Force to work with Inghams for a swift and co-ordinated approach to issues arising from the fire.
“In order to provide certainty for the industry it would also be beneficial for Inghams to announce its commitment to rebuilding the facility, knowing that it has the support of two tiers of government and Victorian chicken farmers.
“It is vital that the Inghams operation is rebuilt for the industry to remain successful in Victoria, and a continuing commitment from State and Local Governments will go a long way towards achieving this,” Mr Shaw concluded.