Multi-million dollar expansion to secure future jobs
CONFIDENCE is set to soar across the Southern Downs' agricultural industry as a multi-million dollar government investment secures the future of local jobs and businesses.
Family-owned meat processing powerhouse John Dee is set to expand after funding approval creates a 40 per cent increase in their processing capacity and an additional 155 local jobs.
The Queensland Government allocated $16.7 million and an undisclosed portion of the $175 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund to the expansion of the meat processing plant in Warwick and the feedlot in Inglewood.
The Department of State Development was unable to provide the specific amount contributed from the Jobs and Regional Growth Fund for confidentiality reasons.
Director John Hart said the welcome announcement offered hope during difficult, drought conditions.
"It supports job building and job security for the long term benefit of the community," Mr Hart said.
"This shows confidence to a raft of industries which depend on the beef industry, from grazing, to feedlotting, to abbatoiring and trucking.
"The drought conditions are testing us but the funding helps our resolve."
The funding will go towards a multi-stage vision for the company, the first stage of which was funded by the Federal Government and broke ground in January.
The following stages, partially bankrolled by the state, will include the installation of state-of-the-art carton sorting and tracking automation, the construction of a second boning room and the upgrade of by-product processing facilities.
The final step will increase the capacity of the Yarranbrook feedlot at Inglewood by 27 per cent, from 18,500 head to 23,500 head.
Ultimately, the Warwick facility is expected to be able to process more than 1000 head of cattle each week.
Mr Hart said it was a milestone that would have taken far longer to achieve if they'd had to face recent challenges alone.
"It gives us the confidence to keep moving ahead," he said.
"The industry is facing challenges of regulation costs and labour costs, and that money can now be put to good use in extending the longevity of the company and its ongoing development."
Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner said those developments were a direct result of state government investment.
"The facility already supplies thousands of varieties of beef cuts to more than 145 customers in over 37 export markets, and those numbers are only going to grow," Mr Furner said.
Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said it was the single largest investment in John Dee's 80 year history and "drives home the Palaszczuk Government's commitment to jobs in the Southern Downs region"
It may still be some time before changes are seen, however.
"The timing depends on the weather," Mr Hart said.
"The drought has put some confusion into how to move ahead quickly, as you can imagine.
"The other thing the company needs to look at is water security for these kinds of events because it's the second time we've had to go through such a drought."
While the company investigates solutions to their water security Mr Hart said it's good to have a boost to morale.
"It's great knowing we've got the community and the government behind what we're doing," he said.