FIVE months after its sudden closure, a plan is in motion to re-open the Strathalbyn abattoir.
The site, previously owned and operated by Strath Pastoral, shut down in December last year with the company saying that it was a heartbreaking decision, but the business was no longer viable.
Three full-time staff and 11 casual workers lost their jobs as a result of the closure, while it also raised significant concerns from local producers about the increased transport costs caused by having to deliver their stock to facilities further afield.
The prospect of the facility re-opening has gathered steam recently, with Regional Development Australia Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island funding a consultant to undertake a business case and business plan assessment, before they look to attract investors.
RDA Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and KI regional development manager Stephen Shotton said the organisation had engaged with present owner Terry Steed - a local grazier - to assist in getting the abattoir up and running again.
"We recognise the importance of having an abattoir in the region and many people want to see it operating so we've stepped in to see what we can do to assist," Mr Shotton said.
"It hasn't been long since the Strathalbyn abattoir was running, so it should be the most viable option for an abattoir to resume operating on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
"Terry wants to see it operating again and has identified someone to manage it.
"So our role will be to help get investors in.
"We've kickstarted a project, which has been completed by a consultant, to do the business case and business plan and put a structure together for it."
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Mr Shotton said the business case had not yet calculated exactly how much it would cost to resume operations at the abattoir, but he did not expect it to be a cheap exercise.
He said the business case - the first stage of their plan - would need to be completed before investors were formally approached.
"Investors need to know what the ownership structure is, a business plan to show what it's going to cost to get it operating again, how much money it's going to make and so on," he said.
"In the meantime, while it's not operating, producers are having to find alternatives.
"Some of them might not come back - they might find something that suits them - but I think the overwhelming interest in seeing it restarted is because driving stock to Two Wells or even further away just doesn't cut it.
"You can't expect it to open and be back to the same numbers straight away, but there is long-term potential there to see it process more numbers than it used to."
Mr Shotton said the RDA had been quick to act because the site's closure had left a gap in services and created a financial burden for local producers, especially those smaller operations marketing as paddock-to-plate businesses.
Local beef producer Doug van Tijn has been taking cattle to TPL Meat Exports at Two Wells since the Strathalbyn closure.
He estimates the extra transport, slaughtering and loading costs would equate to up to a $60 a head increase.
He would welcome the re-opening of the Strathalbyn facility.
But he believes for it to be a viable business in the long-term, producers need to be prepared to pay increased slaughtering fees and new operators would have to value-add by wholesaling some of their own product.
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