24 Sep 2012

Chathams' meat plant feasibility study nearly complete

1:28 pm on 24 September 2012

The chief executive of the Chatham Islands Trust says a proposed meat processing plant for the islands would give agriculture a much-needed boost.

At present, stock are shipped live to the mainland for processing, and Bruce Harris says livestock numbers are declining because of the animal welfare risks associated with that.

Mr Harris says a processing plant would help produce a Chatham Islands brand for the region's high quality sheep and beef meat, give farmers greater certainty and encourage them to invest in their businesses.

"The island produces a very good quality of livestock, both beef and lamb, so the opportunity to be able to brand that product and sell it as a Chatham Islands brand would be great."

Mr Harris says a feasibility study on the plant will be completed in a fortnight and analysed by the trust before any further decisions are made.

Minister for Primary Industries David Carter says it costs farmers a lot of money to ship stock to the mainland and meat plant on the islands would help to make farming there more economical.

Mr Carter says a new generation of Chatham Islands farmers is seeing the potential for marketing of a unique brand.

The Government last week said it had accepted it would have to pay to upgrade infrastructure on the Chatham Islands and that a good place to start would be the badly corroding wharf, expected to cost $20 million to fix.