Australian Agricultural Co buys NT Livingstone Farm with plans to build abattoir

Australia’s biggest pastoralist, Australian Agriculture Co, will spend $13,275,000 on the 600-hectare holding, Livingstone Farm, in the Livingstone Valley 50 km south of Darwin.

The acquisition is part of an $83 million plan to build an abattoir able to process about 225,000 head of cattle each year.

The Northern Territory government approved the construction earlier this month. The abattoir is expected to occupy 14 hectares of the site, with the balance acting as a buffer zone, with irrigation zones, natural wetlands and ponds.

The plan won’t stop the controversial live-trade issue, but the company plans to halve the number of cattle trucked to Queensland or southern abattoirs.

Referring to animals unsuitable for live-export to Indonesia, AACo chief David Farley estimates it currently costs $220 t $320 per animal to transport them in Australia – more than value of each cow.

"The project fundamentals around a processing plant in the Northern Territory are compelling and will secure the long-term future of Australia's northern pastoral industry," Farley said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The economic benefits extend well beyond northern Australia, and we believe will also have substantial positive flow-on effects for our northern neighbours."

The proposed abattoir will comply to halal standards, which involved a rigorous set of procedures for stunning and bleeding the animals.

Although the company has the resources to run the program alone, it is considering a joint-venture with a pastoralist or customer.

AACo expects total cattle sales of 244,000 this year, including 92,000 live-export, up from 239,771 last year.

Farley told the ABC that the company still needs to negotiate vital water and power and convince the NT government into funding infrastructure upgrades.

"We're within weeks really, it's just a matter of issues around the port and issues around some of the service supplies.

"If we get a break through with those, we'll be more than comfortable to progress with the tendering of the plant and then ultimately construction."

The company’s ASX statement advocates the proximity to growing Asian markets.

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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