WESTERN Australian northern pastoralists no longer have to truck cattle thousands of kilometres across outback roads for processing.
The Kimberley Meat Company (KMC) - about 100 kilometres from Broome - reopened its doors last month.
This is after Australia's most remote beef processing facility and only northern-based abattoir was forced to close last year, amid record high cattle prices, supply shortages, seasonally low beef trim prices in the United States and increased scrutiny of the live export industry.
This meant the nearest processing opportunity for Kimberley pastoralists over the past 12 months was more than 2000km away in the Northern Territory or southern WA.
KMC chief executive officer David Larkin said the revived abattoir would continue operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yeeda Pastoral Company.
He said processing started on April 27 and had been well-supported by the community.
"We have a new crew and are recommissioning the plant - all is going well," Mr Larkin said.
"We killed four days in the first week and were processing all of last week.
"The abattoir is set to cut out the long distance transport of cattle, which from a welfare point of view is much better for the animal.
"It is also much more cost-effective than freighting cattle south."
Mr Larkin said KMC was on target to process 40,000 plus head of cattle this year with the aim of processing 70,000 head in 2023.
He said there had already been an influx of registrations from producers wanting to process cattle at the plant.
"In a nutshell - it means livestock producers in the region now have a meat processing facility at their backdoor," Mr Larkin said.
"And it is not just those in the Kimberley who are taking advantage of the plant reopening - we have also had producers from the Northern Territory and Pilbara express an interest to supply cattle."
A benefit beyond pastoralists is the facility has also bolstered employment opportunities in the region.
A workforce has been found in locals, as well as people further afield in WA and as far as the Eastern States.
However, KMC is looking to build on this and to recruit both skilled and unskilled workers.
David Stoate, Anna Plains station, said the KMC had provided an important marketing option for producers in the north.
"Pastoralists need a diversity of marketing options for their cattle and KMC provides a very important one," Mr Stoate said.
"Producers have been looking forward to the facility re-opening."
KMC last year proposed a restructure to open as a co-operative ownership model.
But his did not eventuate as the State government was unable to finalise a loan to the co-op in time.
Despite this, Mr Larkin said people were "very thankful" the plant had reopened.
"We may revisit plans for the co-operative in the future, but at the moment we will continue running as is."
KMC holds global export licences to the US, Vietnam, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Canada.
It was the brainchild of Yeeda in 2016.
The abattoir is fully equipped to supply both frozen and quartered beef, boxed beef and the full suite of offals packaged to customer specifications.
It has a 200 body per day boning room, halal certification, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources accreditation, a HACCP (food safety) approved plant accredited by Aus-Meat and advanced refrigeration capabilities of more than 2500 square metres.
It is now working five days a week.
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