Valley saleyards push

A livestock exchange based in the Latrobe Valley has been mooted by a group of farmers and agents keen to compete with saleyards in Warragul and Sale.

Latrobe City Council has approved a $10,000 pre-feasibility study into the establishment of a livestock sale facility within the municipality.

Hazelwood North farmer and former Morwell abattoir owner Don Evenden and a group of farmers have met with council officers since February 2013, arguing the Sale and Warragul saleyards were “inadequate” and transporting livestock to Koonwarra or Pakenham was more than 80 kilometres away.

Unconfirmed rumours also surround the closure of the Warragul saleyard with anecdotal evidence suggesting increased traffic near the facility, a third rail crossing to be built in close proximity and a burgeoning population driving property values as possible factors.

There are five saleyards in Gippsland – Bairnsdale, Koonwarra, Pakenham and Sale, all owned and operated by the Victorian Livestock Exchange, and Warragul, which is privately owned.

The Traralgon Saleyards were closed in 2008 by the VLE after dwindling interest from stock agents.

Mr Evenden said opposition was needed and Warragul was up against a number of challenges, including being located so close to the town centre, no access for B-double trucks to transport livestock and older concrete floors.

“Many farmers that I’ve talked to say they (VLE) need some opposition and the other thing is a lot of cattle go to Koonwarra, and it’s a long way,” Mr Evenden said.

“There’s no need for them to go over there if there was a good set of saleyards here on the main freeway.”

The 77 year-old said as a former Morwell abattoir owner he had purchased cattle from every saleyard in Gippsland, and hoped to model a Latrobe Valley saleyard on Bairnsdale’s facility.

He said he had spoken to many local farmers who were supportive of the concept, considering adjacent holding paddocks, B-double loading ramps and presenting cattle.

“I think there could be a better way of drafting the cattle and a system that made it easier,” Mr Evenden said.

Last month a $3.3 million refurbished Gippsland Regional Livestock Exchange, based at Sale, reopened, fit out with soft sawdust floors, elevated walkways and a roof to protect livestock from the sun.

The selling area also includes 114 pens and improved traffic movement in and out of the site.

FOB Livestock managing director Ben Greenwood said the Sale facility would open new opportunities at the yards given the close proximity to Traralgon, Glengarry, Hazelwood North, Morwell and Yinnar.

He said the old saleyards at Traralgon fell by the wayside and the new saleyards at Sale had the Latrobe Valley region “well covered”.

“I think they’ve missed the boat,” Mr Greenwood said.

Peter Kostos, a Baw Baw councillor and Stock and Land newspaper contributor said the Warragul saleyards attracted cattle from the Latrobe Valley area and a saleyards in the region may regain cattle leaving the area.

“I can’t see it closing down at the moment (Warragul), but the pre-feasibility study will look into that. It’s a functional saleyard at the moment,” Mr Kostos said.

The Express made attempts to contact Victorian Livestock Exchange chief executive Wayne Osborne.

He said he had spoken to many local farmers who were supportive of the concept, considering adjacent holding paddocks, B-double loading ramps and presenting cattle.

“I think there could be a better way of drafting the cattle and a system that made it easier,” Mr Evenden said.

Last month a $3.3 million refurbished Gippsland Regional Livestock Exchange, based at Sale, reopened, fit out with soft sawdust floors, elevated walkways and a roof to protect livestock from the sun.

The sale area also includes 114 pens and improved traffic movement in and out of the site.

FOB Livestock managing director Ben Greenwood said the Sale facility would open new opportunities at the yards given the close proximity to Traralgon, Glengarry, Hazelwood North, Morwell and Yinnar.

He said the old saleyards at Traralgon fell by the wayside and the new saleyards at Sale had the Latrobe Valley region “well covered”.

“I think they’ve missed the boat,” Mr Greenwood said.

Peter Kostos, a Baw Baw councillor and Stock and Land newspaper contributor, said the Warragul saleyards attracted cattle from the Latrobe Valley area.

“I can’t see it closing down at the moment (Warragul), but the pre-feasibility study will look into that. It’s a functional saleyard at the moment,” Mr Kostos said.

The Express made attempts to contact Victorian Livestock Exchange chief executive Wayne Osborne.