A CONTROVERSIAL proposal for a regional livestock centre has been reignited with Corangamite Shire Council entering into negotiations with Regional Infrastructure Pty Ltd (RIPL) to operate the Camperdown saleyards.
Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O'Connor said the decision to negotiate with RIPL was the first step in the creation of regional saleyards within the shire.
"Discussions will now take place with RIPL that will be completed confidentially due to the commercial nature of these negotiations," Cr O'Connor said.
"These negotiations will not affect current operations and the council encourages both buyers and sellers to continue to support the Camperdown saleyards."
The decision has disappointed Moyne Shire mayor James Purcell, who said he was concerned the debate over the regional saleyards proposal could be hijacked by the vested interests of individual councils and not based on the long-term interests of the farming community.
Cr Purcell lobbied other councils in the Great South Coast group in July to support a study on the need for a regional saleyards but gained no support from other south-west mayors.
He said meetings which Moyne convened with the community on the issue earlier this year had confirmed its support for a regional saleyards, although not necessarily within Moyne.
RIPL managing director Garry Edwards said the benefits to producers, buyers, agents and transporters of a truly regional cattle selling facility in the south-west could not be ignored.
"The days of saleyards being operated in urban or intensive industrial areas have passed and the industry needs to look forward into the future and adopt change to ensure its sustainability," Mr Edwards said.
Corangamite Shire's moves to get a regional saleyards come after Warrnambool City Council's efforts earlier this year aroused strong opposition from the Warrnambool Stock Agents Association and sections of the farming community.
The council announced in March that RIPL was its preferred proponent to establish a new saleyards but the strong opposition led the council in April to seek further community consultation on the saleyards' future.
Warrnambool Stock Agents Association president Kieran Johnstone said there had been no discussion with the council on the regional saleyards proposal for some months.