LOCAL farmer Terry Steed has purchased the Strathalbyn abattoir and is taking expressions of interest from companies wishing to lease the facility, after former operators Strath Pastoral announced they had ceased trading last week.
Mr Steed, a sheep and cattle grazier at Strathalbyn and Coombe, said he bought the abattoir with the goal of seeing the site resume normal production and offering employment to those left without work after the facility's sudden closure.
There had been several expressions of interest in leasing the facility during the past week, Mr Steed said, but no deals had been finalised as yet.
"We're still looking for someone who's interested in getting it up and running again," he said.
"It needs somebody to put a little bit of money into it, tidy a few things up, get the licence and away they could go.
"The longer it's left idle, the harder it will be to start up."
Mr Steed said it was important for local producers to have the facility as an option, with processing capacity on the Fleurieu already suffering due to the closure of the Normanville abattoir in 2015.
"A lot of people are really upset that the abattoir (at Strathalbyn) has shut because there's nothing available to do domestic product," he said.
Management of the abattoir operators Strath Pastoral issued a statement last week announcing the company had ceased all trading as of 5pm on Wednesday, forcing the closure of the site that employed three full-time staff and 11 casual workers.
The announcement followed the recent sale of the company's land holding on the outskirts of Strathalbyn.
Strath Pastoral director Darren Lamp said it was a devastating time for all concerned, but the business was no longer viable and it would be irresponsible to continue to operate.
Beef producer Doug van Tijn, who has had cattle processed at the facility for more than 30 years, said he was disappointed in the timing and the way the closure was handled.
"It's a bloody big impost on everybody and especially the way it happened," he said.
"They (the abattoir) were dropped like a hot bloody bun. I've been slaughtering there for 33 years and the product coming out of there was very good."
Mr van Tijn said he had up to 60 cattle a week processed at Strathalbyn and would be forced to travel to TPL Meats at Two Wells as a result of the closure, increasing his transport costs by about $25 a head.
He said farmers should be concerned about the lack of competition caused by abattoir closures, saying they would be the ones impacted by any price increases and extra transport costs.
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, who has previously thrown her support behind re-opening the abattoir at Normanville, said there was an eagerness from local, state and federal levels of government to see the Strathalbyn facility have a viable future.
She said once an operational structure was finalised, she would be willing to lobby for federal funding for the facility.
"It's important that we have as many options as possible for producers to process their livestock," Ms Sharkie said.
"If it ends up that producers have only got one or two places to send their livestock to, it makes it very difficult for producers.
"I think there's a real opportunity in the marketplace for small processing plants.
"Provenance is a really important issue in food production and we need to be able to market our food as locally grown and processed."
Primary Industries Minister David Basham said he felt for the workers affected by the abattoir's closure and would work with any prospective operators to explore opportunities for the site.
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