TOURING: Ben Johnston, Graham Kirkland, Cr Marika McNichol, Mayor Tracy Dobie, Scott McMahon and Ross Ellis.
TOURING: Ben Johnston, Graham Kirkland, Cr Marika McNichol, Mayor Tracy Dobie, Scott McMahon and Ross Ellis. Chris Lines

Saleyards' $276K facelift first step in SDRC's master plan

THE first sheep auction since the saleyards' $276,000 renovations were conducted yesterday as producers and councillors toured the new facilities.

The refurbishments in the council funded scheme included two walkways, new loading ramps and 24 lamb pens.

Warwick saleyards coordinator Bernie Brosnan said the new upgrades ensured the saleyards surpassed workplace health and safety standards.

"The saleyards are the hub of Warwick for producers in the area and investment in them is critical to make sure they are in working order," Mr Brosnan said.

He was particularly excited for the new lamb pens, which would ease congestion as greater sheep numbers pour into Warwick.

"It will be good to be able to present the lambs in better facilities to attract more buyers," he said.

Clifton sheep farmer Stuart Barkla said the Southern Downs was full of many good lamb producers and the upgrades would make life easier.

He said the saleyards were an important space for producers from more than just an economic standpoint.

"A trip down here might be the only weekly trip into town for some of these fellas, seeing the place is being looked after helps keep morale high, so this was a really good start," he said.

"The saleyards provide producers with a good opportunity to interact with buyers."

Now the refurbishments are in place, Mr Barkla said the next challenge would be making sure they were used.

"Numbers is going to be an issue going forward but once the drought breaks at least the facilities will be here."

Cr Marika McNichol said the investment showed the council's confidence in the future of Southern Downs' wool industry.

"These are the only sheep yards in Queensland so it is imperative we maintain their condition and keep the workers safe," she said.

Cr McNichol said the council's $1.7 million cluster fencing program to protect sheep from wild dog attacks was further proof of the council's commitment to the industry.

Mayor Tracy Dobie was also present for the opening of the sheep yards and took the opportunity to tour its other facilities for future investment plans.

"Cluster fencing and these upgrades are the council doing its part to make sure our industries are competitive with those around the state."

The upgrade is the first step of the council's master plan to renovate the entirety of the Warwick saleyards to ensure its longevity into the future.

Council's 'master plan' to refurbish Warwick Saleyards under way

THE latest sheep pen refurbishments for Warwick saleyards will not be the last for the produce hub.

While touring the facilities Mayor Tracy Dobie announced the council is forming a 'master plan' for the saleyards.

Warwick saleyards coordinator Bernie Brosnan said the plan would cover all bases of refurbishment.

"Over the next few weeks we will be identifying weaknesses in terms of animal welfare and occupational safety," he said.

"The master plan will aim to fix these weaknesses, we will be ensuring the saleyards will still be here in 20-30 years."

Mr Brosnan said he was happy to see the commitment to the rural workers.

"Everyone is a ratepayer, it is great to see council is willing to invest money into Warwick producers," he said.

Cr Dobie said the saleyards represented more than just a place of trade for Southern Downs producers.

"When you come down to the saleyards you do not just see people selling their produce but also farmers having a chat to one another," Cr Dobie said.

"Our producers deserve facilities which are comfortable and safe, whether that is while they are having a cup of tea, or using the toilets."