Yass puts squeeze on yards

STAYING PUT: Managing director of Kattle Gear Australia Pty Ltd Bill Vowles (Front) with Goulburn saleyards’ assistant manager Luke Doggett, looking over the Goulburn yards.GOULBURN saleyard operators vehemently deny they’ll shut their gates to accommodate a proposed multi-million regional livestock centre on the outskirts of Yass.
Nanjing Night Net

The managing director of the company in charge of the Finlay Road yards this week jumped on the front foot in response to a Yass Valley Council commissioned report that declared the $12-14 million greenfield proposal viable.

Kattle Gear chief Bill Vowles believes the Yass site “doesn’t stand up” and is declaring unofficial war with industry counterparts to the southwest.

Mr Vowles, whose company in 2001 purchased the Goulburn Saleyards from Council for $100, along with added engineering and managerial responsibilities, claims to have spent approximately $1m reinvigorating the local exchange in the past 15 months.

“We’ve spent a million dollars on the facility – that gives you some idea about our intentions,” he said. “Quite frankly, we’re not going anywhere.”

The prospect of a major livestock selling hub at Yass is tender for some in the local industry.

Kattle Gear in 2009 lodged plans to construct an $8m selling facility on Mazamet Road. The Southern Region Joint Planning Panel knocked back the proposal in February 2010, forcing Mr Vowles to consolidate the current operation – a centre which accommodates 300,000 sheep and 60,000 cattle annually.

Since that much-debated decision, it’s been full steam ahead at Yass. Proponents of the rival facility, Brendan Abbey, the landholder whose property will host the facility, and Col Medway, the principal and partner of Yass-based agribusiness Landmark Copeland Medway, are on the cusp of unveiling their blueprint.

The viability of a Yassbased facility, however, relies largely on either Goulburn sellers diverting their stock down the Hume Highway, or the present yards shutting down.

Mr Vowles forcefully ruled out the latter.

For local figures in the industry, the issue isn’t quite so black and white.

‘Civil war’ and technicalities aside, stock carrier Richard Carter, an outspoken advocate for a Goulburn facility, believes such a centre – regardless of its location – is overdue.

“The way of the world is evolving,” he said this week. “The industry does want a regional centre… agents want a greenfield site. I’m just sad that Goulburn might miss out.”

Should the Yass facility – set to include solar panels on its 3.5 acre roof and feature state-of-the-art selling technology – earn the green light, the Goulburn yards’ future will be at stake.

“The dynamics will change and Goulburn will be under incredible pressure to fold. That’s something producers may have to come to terms with,” he said.

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