Young Abattoir soon after its sudden closure in 2010. Photo: Andrew Sheargold
Reopening of the Young abattoir later this year will end a bleak period for the enterprising cherry town which has suffered from bank foreclosures on orchards, a huge bird flu outbreak and late frost that crippled grain crops last season.
More than 300 people were thrown out of work when the abattoir closed suddenly in early 2010, testing the resilience of a town which relies on its diversity of wine, stone fruits, poultry, beef and pigs to ride out seasonal setbacks,
Young and District Chamber of Commerce president Jim Cusack said the abattoir's latest job advertisements for tradespeople had lifted spirits in the business community which had felt the brunt of failed crops.
One of Australia's largest family-owned meat wholesalers BE Campbell has invested millions of dollars in new refrigeration, water treatment, fire hydrant and plate freezing at the abattoirs.
Principal Ted Campbell said 100 jobs would be created when the works reopen in the last quarter of this year, but was reluctant to commit to a date because of the volatility of the meat sector and challenge of finding skilled staff.
"I am hesitant because we are coming out a drought. Sourcing stock will be a major challenge. The numbers (through saleyards) haven't slowed up, but that will happen quickly,'' Mr Campbell said.
BE Campbell provides pork, beef and chicken products to supermarkets, has a small shareholding in a South Australian abattoir and previously brought meat from the Young works.
Mr Campbell said Young abattoir would begin with beef only for the domestic and export markets.
"We have had a long history with buying livestock out of the area - that was the initial attraction,'' he said.
"We have a general manager, quality assurance manager and maintenance manager. They have been on site for some time.
"We will be buying from saleyards and directly off properties,'' he said.
Young Mayor Stuart Freudenstein said the reopening would be a huge boost for the community who had waited patiently. Work had been helped up by unforeseen issues in refurbishing the plant.
Mr Freudenstein said as well as the meat works closure, the town had seen its cherry sector reduced to large-scale companies only, with small producers closing or selling their orchards.
The NSW government has invited tenders for a private sector operator to run the 200-kilometre Blayney-Cowra-Demondrille railway line which will generate economic activity throughout the Young region.
Mr Freudenstein said potential operators estimated it would cost $30 million to reopen the line. They were confident logging, mining and containers out of Blayney would provide sufficient freight to make the line viable, without depending on grain.
A Victorian pasta company had reopened Young's flour mill and a new mustard seed oil venture would open a processing and export business, and provide contracts to growers.