QUITE apart from a genuine concern about the impact on the town of Murray Bridge in South Australia and the 1400 employees of Thomas Foods International’s huge abattoir in the town, South Gippsland beef producers are anxious about the fallout from this week’s fire.
Major structural damage has occurred in the plant’s near-new boning room but it remains unclear what damage has been caused to the rest of the plant in a huge fire there on Wednesday evening, December 3.
TFI spent $30 million upgrading the boning room in 2015.
The whole plant has the capacity to process 11,000 lambs and 1200 head of cattle a day and representatives of the firm are regulars at the VLE Saleyards at Leongatha.
Veteran stockman Mike Stevens of SEJ Leongatha said the damage to the TFI plant is a major concern.
“No one is sure what the impact will be but they are a major player,” Mr Stevens said.
“They attend here regularly and are active buyers in the area.
“They’ll also have significant numbers on feed so what happens to them, where they would be processed is anyone’s guess.
“We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Mr Stevens said there was a slight easing in the prime market and store market at Leongatha last week but on low volumes and without the usual spread of cattle so observations about prospects for the year ahead would have to wait.
“But certainly, the fallout from the TFI fire is a concern,” he said.
Caption: The damaging TFI fire was a key topic of conversation at the Leongatha VLE Saleyards on Thursday.