The Federal Government has announced $4.8 million in funding for major expansion of the Warwick-based John Dee export beef abattoir.
The funding was announced by the Federal Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud MP, with money from the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) and will assist John Dee in constructing a new $15 million regional cold storage facility on site.
John Dee CEO, Warren Stiff, said the expansion will alleviate product handling and storage bottlenecks within the plant.
“The cold storage will remove carton beef product from valuable floor space within the plant allowing processing areas to be further developed,” Mr Stiff said.
“It really allows for more efficiently and increased production, with improved technology including the latest order picking technology.”
Construction on the new cold storage facility is expected to start in the next couple of months, allowing the abattoir to streamline product handling and sorting up to 48,000 cartons of export beef.
It will be built on-site adjacent to the plant and will be linked by overhead conveyor systems.
Mr Stiff said the the upgrade of the cold storage facility with federal funding was the first stage of expansion.
“The second stage will then allow John Dee to increase it’s weekly kill to 3500 heavy grain-fed bodies weekly,” Mr Stiff said.
Once completed, it is expected to create 150 new jobs, in addition to John Dee’s existing workforce of 630. Another 80 indirect jobs are expected to flow along the John Dee processing supply chain.
“This funding assistance has brought forward our major investment in our plant and business by several years,” Mr Stiff said.
“We engaged Price Waterhouse for our economic modelling and administrative support to assist the Southern Downs Regional Council to lodge this application.”
“We really acknowledge the assistance from both David Littleproud and the Southern Downs Regional Council.”
Mr Littleproud said that John Dee was one of three BBRF projects successful in the Maranoa securing a total of $9.36m for infrastructure and job-creation.
“The new regional cold store facility at John Dee will overcome processing restraints in the beef supply,” Mr Littleproud said.
John Dee is one of 10 plants currently on the chilled access to China list.
Recently, it expanded it’s Yarranbrook Feedlot at Inglewood by 5000 head and currently has 19,000 on feed.