ARMIDALE could be the next regional city with a processing industry if a group of New England farmers and business people can make it happen.
Two meetings have been held in Armidale over the past fortnight to discuss the possibility of establishing the city’s first meatworks since the 1960s.
At Monday night’s meeting the group decided to form a company with 10 directors who would each make a small investment in the project.
The next step for the group will be a feasibility study to look at supply and demand and opportunities to supply domestic and export markets.
The group has focused on lamb processing due to an increase in prime lamb production in the area over the past decade, but the abattoir could also process cattle and goats, according to local producer and chair of Armidale branch of NSW Farmers, Andrew Cameron, “Fassifern”, Wollomombi.
Armidale’s closest processors are at Tamworth, about 110 kilometres away.
The local project could be good news for farmers and jobseekers, with an abattoir likely to create up to 200 jobs for the area.
It could also help local butchers who currently send their animals to a processor at Kempsey.
“It’d be great for Armidale to have some form of industry which it’s crying out for,” Mr Cameron said.
“We’re a grazing area with sheep and cattle, so why not vertically integrate and process our own livestock?”
A member of the group will travel to China in April to research investment and export opportunities.
“We’ve got some people who have contacts in China and we’re hoping for some Chinese investment,” Mr Cameron said.
Local businessman and New England candidate Rob Taber, one of the instigators of the project, said there was strong support from the community, due to the need for more industry and job opportunities.
“Armidale is well-known as an education and academic town but there are not many semi-skilled jobs so it could present a good opportunity to create more jobs in the area.”