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Inghams Will Re-Build Fire-Damaged Plant

by 5m Editor
12 February 2010, at 9:31am

AUSTRALIA - Inghams says it will rebuild its plant in Victoria that was damaged by fire. The company's broiler growers have welcomed the news.

Poultry processor, Inghams, will rebuild its fire-ravaged plant on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and keep 350 of its 600 staff in employment while construction continues over the next 12 months.

Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Victorian government will provide financial support to build an advanced water treatment plant that will save 360 megalitres of water each year at the Somerville site which was destroyed by fire on 11 January.

Acting Industry and Trade Minister, Tim Holding, said the government's support will ensure that the factory can be rebuilt within the next 12 months following the fire.

The Inghams plant accounted for about 30 per cent of chickens processed in Victoria and provided a further 170 jobs through its contract broiler farms.

The National Union of Workers Victorian Secretary, Antony Thow, said the rebuild was a great outcome for the workers, their families and the local community.

He said: "The unity, strength and dedication of the Inghams workers has been rewarded. The factory will be on a fast-track rebuild that may take less than 12 months and we're delighted Inghams is maintaining 350 full-time jobs during this time."

He said the workers who will be made redundant can reapply for their positions when the factory reopened, reports Sydney Morning Herald.

Comments from local farmers' group

The Victorian Farmers Federation's (VFF) Chicken Meat Group has welcomed the announcement by Acting Industry and Trade Minister, Tim Holding, that the Inghams Somerville plant is to be rebuilt.

VFF Chicken Meat Group president, Mike Shaw, said that the announcement brought to a close several weeks of uncertainty since the 11 January fire.

He said: "It is great news for Inghams' growers and the entire chicken meat industry that the plant is to be rebuilt. The Inghams Somerville plant accounted for about 30 per cent of chickens processed in Victoria and now its suppliers can rest assured knowing that the company’s future has been guaranteed.

"I thank Inghams, the Victorian Government, the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and the National Union of Workers for working with the VFF to secure the future of the Inghams processing plant at Somerville.

"The government has agreed to provide significant financial support to facilitate construction of an advanced water treatment plant that will save 360 megalitres of water each year.

"Whilst we are pleased to see early action by the State Government we need to seek assurances that this action will be supported by programmes that will help get this sector of the industry back on its feet and we will be progressing this with government over the coming weeks.

"Obviously, for Inghams to commit to a new plant they require a secure supply of growers now and into the future. To achieve this there should be a commitment from government to provide encouragement for existing growers to expand where appropriate.

"The recently revised broiler code, while a promising step forward, still precludes expansion on an existing farm where the new shedding can meet the separation distances but the existing shedding approved in earlier times does not. This remains a significant barrier to achieving a more efficient Victorian industry.

"There remains a need to consider a range of grower programs for the short and long term for Victorian growers impacted by the Ingham's fire, as these growers could be presently growing for any of the four Victorian processors.

"The industry has taken a battering since the fire and today's announcement provides positive reassurance for all involved. The VFF will continue to work with government to identify incentives that will get the industry back on its feet and remain viable long into the future," Mr Shaw concluded.