Time to beef up saleyards

Director of Aussie Land and Livestock Midge Thompson along side auctioneer Corey Evans in action at the Coolabunia Saleyards. Picture: Laura Blackmore 212910_01

by Jessica McGrath

Livestock agents are calling on the South Burnett Regional Council to pull their weight in managing the Coolabunia Saleyards.

Aussie Land and Livestock accepted the decision made by the council during last Wednesday’s meeting to reject all tenders to purchase the saleyards outside of Kingaroy.

However, they do not want to see the saleyards go ‘back in time’.

“We now call for South Burnett Regional Council to take ownership and effectively manage their asset so that the businesses in the industry can realise ongoing commercial success,” they said.

“We are already prepared with feedback and don’t want to go back in time to when the saleyards were in ruins and underutilised. Among the many business and agricultural challenges that we face in present times, our industry can’t afford to be idle.”

The agents insist the council uses this decision to front the industry with vision and action.

“Should Council do their part, business will be ready to drive the commercial opportunities that will be revealed with forward-thinking infrastructure,” they said.

South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto said the council decided the saleyards could not go in the hands of a private operator as a result of the substantial capital loss that would be realized and more the recent community concerns raised.

“We as a council have a strong desire to see the Coolabunia saleyards remain as saleyards, but be moved onto a commercial footing where they can be a viable entity in their own right,” he said.

Cr Kirstie Schumacher said the saleyards needed to be prioritised going into the future as they are an enormous economic enabler for the region.

“The saleyard is like the library and the community hall of the farmers in our region,” she said.

“It plays a critical role and as a council we have a responsibility to appropriately invest in this facility.

“We must operate this facility in a commercially responsible way and actively seek grants and funding to bring the saleyards and its operations up to the standard the people of our region deserve.”

Over the past 15 years Aussie Land and Livestock has grown the agricultural industry, including the throughput of the Coolabunia Saleyards to 10,000 head a year.

To date the missing pieces of the saleyard’s success has been a lack of focus, contribution and certainty from the owners of the land.

Aussie Land and Livestock said they can see the potential for growth, diversity and upgrades at the Coolabunia Saleyards.

“If council meet the leadership request from our industry and listen to the insight of local industry, we know that the Coolabunia Saleyards will drive growth for a range of agriculture value chain businesses,” they said.

The livestock agency challenged the council to quickly progress and identify their proposed five-year plan, capital works plan, infrastructure plan and saleyard fees and charges, alongside, and in full consultation with the industry.

Cr Gavin Jones said he would be keeping a close eye on the fees and charges schedule so that the facility is kept on a commercial footing.

The Coolabunia facility currently holds fortnightly cattle sales, specialty store and fat sales, breeder shows and sales. The tick clearing dip is an important facility as it provides a venue for cattle producers to have all cattle inspected and treated for cattle ticks – it’s a critical piece of infrastructure for the community that requires immediate attention and upgrade.