Small-scale farms producing top-grade ethical meats are urging governments to help them find a permanent solution for slaughtering their animals.
The closure of JBS's Devonport abattoir, which processed pigs, cows and sheep, has caused business anxiety to small-scale producers who relied on the facility for slaughter.
While a temporary 12 month government solution for pig slaughter brings short relief for small-scale Northern pig producers such as Langdale Farm and Fork it Farm, cow producers such as Summerlea Farm are left in a vulnerable position.
“We find ourselves faced with the unexpected task of finding a replacement abattoir that will service small producers and give us the quality assurance we're looking for to process our animals,” its owners said.
“It's a stressful time and potentially changes all we've been working towards throughout 2018.”
Sprout, a small food producer advocate, wants local and state governments to investigate a permanent solution to this long-running problem for small-scale farms.
Chief executive Jennifer Robinson said an innovative approach was required to protect the Tasmanian boutique meat market industry, and prevent flow on impacts to the tourism industries and Tasmania’s food brand.
“The solution needs to be suitable, not just from a monetary standpoint. They need to feel comfortable about how the animal is treated prior to slaughter, which also means they get a high quality product at the end of the process, and they need assurances that their own produce is returned to them,” she said.
She suggested a certified, mobile, micro-abattoir as a possible solution, where animals are slaughtered on their farms.
Currently, any meat processed by mobile abattoirs is legally prohibited from public sale.
“We want a conversation about how we can make our local, high quality produce sector in Tasmania more secure and more viable because at the moment there is a major risk for people in this space that the rug can be pulled out from underneath them.”
Fork It Farm owner Daniel Crocker supplies ethical pork to local food markets and nationally acclaimed restaurant Agrarian Kitchen.
He said financial cost and stringent regulations make it difficult to slaughter animals on site, and transporting an animal to a southern abattoir almost four hours away went against animal welfare ideals.
“The small pig producers might be looked after for 12 months but it doesn’t fix this problem. If you combine all the small producers in the state doing boutique, free range, it is a big market and a boost to the economy so we really need to figure out a permanent solution.”