26 Oct 2016

Silver Fern Farms closes down two meat plants

5:03 pm on 26 October 2016

The closure of a Southland venison plant is devastating, says the Meatworkers Union - but not completely unexpected.

Silver Fern Farms CEO Dean Hamilton and board chair Rob Hewett at a special shareholders' meeting in Dunedin on 12 August 2016.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton and board chair Rob Hewett in August Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Silver Fern Farms has confirmed it will close its North Island mutton processing plant at Frasertown, near Wairoa, and its venison plant at Mossburn in Southland.

It said there were roles for all of its workers affected by the closure of the Southland plant.

Chief executive Dean Hamilton said 18 of Mossburn's 43 employees had been taken on at the company's Waitane, Kennington and Finegand sites, and work would also become available for the remaining workers.

"They're all trained staff, a great group of people, and for us, they understand Silver Fern Farms, they understand our standards, and understand our philosophy.

"So the more we can keep at other Silver Fern Farms plants, the better for us, so we're actively encouraging them to take other roles."

Meatworkers Union Southland secretary Gary Davis said the mood among workers was sombre, but closure was on the horizon, as deer numbers declined with more farmers turning to dairy.

"It's a terrible thing to say, but I think for everybody in the venison industry at the moment, something had to happen. There were too many plants and unfortunately it's Mossburn that has borne the brunt of that."

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