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'Devastating': $20m worth of contracts cancelled in Ipswich

THE CLOSURE of the Steggles Wulkuraka facility will likely leave 230 people working on farms out of a job.

That's on top of direct job losses at the meatworks facilities, with 500 jobs to go at Churchill Abattoir in September and 250 at Baiada, Wulkuraka in January.

The additional job losses will come from further down the supply chain with 29 chicken farms directly affected. About eight people work on each farm which now has nowhere to deliver chickens for processing.

The cancellation of contracts represents the lost production of 23million chickens annually from the Ipswich region, worth more than $20million, the Queensland Chicken Growers Association says.

One affected chicken farmer, who can't be named due to contractual agreements with Baiada, said there was no warning the plant would close and the contracts cancelled.

"We only found out a couple of hours before everyone else," the farmer said. "It was a shock. There was more than five years left on our contract so this was completely unexpected.

"It's devastating."

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The farmer said there were about 65,000 chickens on their farm. Once those chickens go to be processed, no more will be hatched.

"A lot of people I know are in severe debt because they've just purchased the contracts and had to borrow millions of dollars to set the farm up. Now the company has closed the contracts on them and they're in millions of dollars of debt."

In a statement earlier this week, Baiada managing direction Simon Camilleri said the decision to close the Ipswich processing plant in January had not been easy. 

"The decision to cease processing at the site is one management has tried to avoid," Mr Camilleri said.  

"Market conditions, however, require us to consolidate our national processing operations meaning we can no longer viably operate the Ipswich facility in the medium to long term.   

"We will be working through the process of closure with our employees, unions, growers and other business partners to minimise impacts wherever we can.   

"All employee and contractual obligations will be met and we will work closely with local partners to help staff find new jobs with other employers.   

"We will collaborate with the Queensland Chicken Growers Association to assist growers in finding alternative opportunities where possible.   

"The decision will also impact the Wacol Feedmill which will no longer be required to service the Ipswich facility.   

"Our Ipswich site will continue to be important to our business as a key distribution hub for the state of Queensland and will continue to employ 100 staff."   

Topics:  churchill abattoir ipswich business job losses steggles ipswich


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