PEAK industry body Sheep Producers Australia has called for greater ‘ground level’ collaboration by government authorities with livestock processors to ensure red meat supplies continue.
SPA chief executive officer Stephen Crisp said he is relieved that processors are able to work with authorities and re-commence operations even with the worrying recent trend in community transmissions in Victoria.
The re-opening of the JBS plant at Brooklyn this week showed that multiple regulatory authorities can work with large processors to ensure a swift response and enable business continuity, SPA said.
“Keep co-operating, that’s all we are saying.”
Mr Crisp said the impact on the supply chain when there is an ‘unplanned’ shut-down, has ramifications that must be dealt with, including on slaughter capacity and delivery schedules.
“The welfare of the sheep is the first priority, and processors have done well to ensure all sheep are fed and watered at holding yards.
“The impacts feed through to the transport companies that have changing schedules, the sheep producers who are managing delivery curfews, and MSA requirements.”
Mr Crisp said there are thousands and thousands of people who work in the meat processing industry in Victoria.
“The impact of closing processing plants will further impact our sheep producers who are already seeing declines in lamb values with temporary reductions in processing capacity.
“The red meat and processing sector have already invested tens of thousands of dollars in high level equipment leading the country, in terms of sanitisation and sterilisation, since late January,” he said.
“The whole supply chain takes its role as an essential service seriously.
“The regulators at both a state and federal level have worked together very well to date.
SPA is assured that efforts are being re-doubled to ensure the regulators can collaborate and prevent more disruption than necessary. For its part, the whole supply chain must ensure all directives are met with an enthusiasm to do whatever it takes to ensure workers are safe, and animal welfare is not compromised.”
SPA sees COVID-19 is a community issue that the red meat industry is doing its part to address. This messaging needs to be prominent in the media and from our government.
“As you reduce the spread of this virus in the community you reduce the threat of it coming into a facility and every other industry throughout Victoria and that is the conversation that should be prominent.”
Victoria records second highest daily COVID-19 case tally
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews today said the state recorded 627 new cases of coronavirus since yesterday, with the total number of cases now at 10,577. The new cases in the meat processing sector include 134 linked to Bertocchi Smallgoods in Thomastown, 84 to the JBS abattoir in Brooklyn, 68 linked to the Australian Lamb Company in Colac, 13 cases linked to Golden Farms Poultry in Breakwater and 13 cases linked to Diamond Valley Pork in Laverton North.