An investment into upgrading the Deniliquin Saleyards to a regional selling centre is paramount if we want to guarantee the future of this essential service to Deniliquin and the surrounding area.
A request seeking funds for the upgrade has been submitted to Edward River Council through its Stronger Communities Fund.
The submission was prepared by local landholder Ken Crossley, with support and on behalf of a range of community organisations including Deniliquin Business Chamber, Deniliquin Stock Agents Association, the local branch of NSW Farmers, as well as livestock carriers and all producers.
Mr Crossley said the upgrade would address long overdue improvements to meet national standards.
He estimated it would cost about $5 million to upgrade the Saleyard Rd site in south Deniliquin, which is the cheaper of two options that have been investigated by local producers over the last decade or more.
He said the other option was for a new livestock marketing centre at a greenfield site, estimated at $10 million.
He also emphasised that the $8.6 million available through the Stronger Communities Fund should only be spent on wealth producing projects which guarantee long term employment and ongoing benefits to the entire council, and the region.
‘‘The stock marketing centre is a key piece of infrastructure that supports the regional agricultural sector, on which the Deniliquin community relies for its prosperity,’’ Mr Crossley said.
‘‘The priority work required to the cattle yards includes roofing over the yards and soft floors (woodchip), bringing it into line with national standard complexes.
‘‘Upgrading work is also required to the sheep yards, and there is a need for additional truck wash bays.
‘‘An estimated minimum allocation of approximately $5 million would be required for this work.’’
Mr Crossley said the ultimate aim is to create a regional livestock marketing centre.
He said without upgrades, the retention of the facility in its entirety could be in jeopardy.
‘‘The saleyards have been neglected by council for many years, and livestock centres have changed a lot in that time,’’ Mr Crossley said.
‘‘There have particularly been some important changes in meeting animal welfare standards.
‘‘All successful centres now have roofed complexes.
‘‘In Victoria, the smaller centres that did nothing have gone by the wayside and those which were upgraded to roofed centres are booming.’’
Included in Mr Crossley’s submission are excerpts from a Deniliquin Council commissioned report on the saleyards, conducted by Neil L. Noelker Consulting in 1997, which determined the livestock marketing centre had significant importance to the community.
It estimated the financial value to the community at more than $43 million per annum, stating that “consequently the Deniliquin Stock Marketing Centre is a major industry that has far reaching implications for the broader Deniliquin business community.”
Mr Crossley pointed out with the increase in stock prices over the past 20 years the estimated $43 million value would have increased to more than $150 million per annum.
The Noelker report also said: ‘‘Surveys conducted during the community and investigative consultation indicated that in many instances businesses relied on over 80 per cent of their income from the farming community of which Deniliquin Stock Marketing Centre actively provides a substantial proportion.
‘‘Investigation into employment as a result of the initial income being generated to the area is also substantial. If the Deniliquin Stock Marketing Centre was downgraded in any way, substantial and dramatic effects would be felt by the Deniliquin business community.’’
Mr Crossley said with Edward River Council revealing publicly last week that it would hold back $5 million of the $8.6 million major projects allocation to pay for a backlog of maintenance to roads and other Deniliquin infrastructure, he is fearful this important project will be overlooked again.
‘‘I would like to emphasise a view, which I believe represents broader community opinion, that the fund should only be spent on wealth producing projects that guarantee long term benefits to the whole council area and beyond,’’ he said.