WAMMCO to return record $8.4m bonus to producer members despite ‘tough’ year
The WA Meat Marketing Co-operative is set to give a record $8.4 million in rebates to its farmers this year, despite enduring crippling supply chain challenges and an overall “tough year”.
WAMMCO, which is WA’s biggest sheep and lamb processing co-operative, announced on Friday the figure would be returned via pool bonuses to its hundreds of producer members at the end of August.
The handsome 2021-22 financial year bonus is $6.4m higher than last year, and $4.1m more than any other year in the co-operative’s 23-year history.
It will include 80¢/kg for qualifying lambs, and 40 ¢/kg for qualifying mutton, on deliveries to WAMMCO’s Katanning abattoir by about 700 contributing members.
It takes the total payout of pool bonuses by WAMMCO over the past nine years to $31.25m.
WAMMCO chief executive Coll MacRury said the record rebate was an “extremely pleasing” result given the daunting impacts of labour shortages, and crippling shipping and logistics issues caused by COVID-19.
He said servicing key offshore markets with a depleted workforce had been a big problem, adding that labour shortages would continue to be the “major challenge” for WAMMCO heading into the new season.
“We are working hard to find suitable offshore workers that can fill some of the many gaps in our labour force,” Mr MacRury said.
“The entire industry is in the same boat and better access to offshore workers has to be a priority for WA.”
Mr MacRury said the WAMMCO team was working tirelessly with producers to keep customers “as happy as possible”.
Abattoirs across Australia have been grappling with a processing backlog caused by chronic labour shortages for months now, with some up to six weeks behind on their bookings.
As well as denting processors’ profit margins, the logjam has frustrated farmers who have been left with mounting labour and feed costs as they wait to offload livestock.
And with the looming seasonal shutdown of processing plants expected to exacerbate the problem, WAMMCO has made special preparations.
“The annual Katanning plant shutdown has been reduced to one week at the beginning of August,” Mr MacRury said.
“We’ll then allow six weeks to address a serious backlog of old-season lamb, particularly if there is a run of hot, dry weather.”
WAMMCO’s 2021-22 financial year result will be finalised at its annual meeting in Katanning in October.
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