The dairy and meat industries are two of the region’s oldest industries. These industries make a significant contribution to the regional economy.
Norco is the major dairy cooperative operating in the region and accounts for 90% of the regions milk supply. With 242 active shareholders on 145 dairy farms, Norco has a membership capital base of $5.8 million and annual revenue of $344 million. Norco’s structure accounts for the payments to the dairy farmers and therefore is a reflection of the value of the dairy industry to the regional economy (NORCO 2009 Annual Report).
There are approximately 12,400 properties that stock beef cattle in the region. Stock numbers of approximately 410,000 over six months of age are accounted for by the region’s Livestock Pest and Health Authority. More than half the number of properties fall into minimum rateable area and do not account for a significant number of stock. There are significant numbers of stock that are taken from the area to either be grown out or processed at other abattoirs. The economic value of the industry to the region is estimated to be $400-$500 million (Pers. com. North Coast Livestock Health & Pest Authority; 2010).
Domestically and internationally consumers are changing their eating habits. This is putting pressure on our traditional industries to keep abreast of consumer preferences. Opportunities exist for products that meet the consumers changing requirements, of minimal preparation and cooking time and/or pre prepared meals.
The region has two abattoirs operated by Northern Cooperative Meat Company (NCMC).
NCMC operates a pig export plant at Booyong and a large export beef and veal processing plant at Casino. The Co-operative has all licenses required to supply product throughout the world including; Australia, the Americas, Japan, Korea and the European Union, and to Halal and organic markets.
NCMC is a service works for other operators and has a turnover in the vicinity of $90 million. Its 1,800 shareholders are drawn from predominantly the Northern Rivers but also the western division, southeast Queensland and the northern tablelands.