A number of sites around the Busselton Regional Airport are being earmarked as potential locations for a proposed Chinese-owned dairy plant.
Consultation for the milk powder processing plant is still ongoing, with a possible delegation of technical experts due to visit in early to mid-2013.
Agricultural Minister Terry Redman confirmed this week discussions between the potential investor, Department of Agriculture and Food and industry consultants were progressing.
“A proposal for an integrated milk powder production plant with appropriate infrastructure, including production of additional milk and new farm operations is being worked on,” he told the Times.
“The proposal is to be completed by the first quarter of 2013 and will be available to any organisation considering investment in the State’s dairy industry.”
Mr Redman reiterated the Government’s support for foreign investment in the dairy industry and said consultation with local dairy farmers showed feedback was generally positive.
City of Busselton community and commercial services director Naomi Searle said they were helping to identify suitable sites and providing information on the application process and costs of establishing the operation.
She said various sites in the airport’s vicinity were being considered, along with sites outside the City’s boundaries.
It is anticipated the development will generate employment opportunities both during construction and operations, as well as providing positive stimulus for the dairy industry through increased demand.
Mrs Searle said it was believed the volume of milk required would outweigh the amount being produced in the region.
“It is therefore anticipated that the company will be required to farm a significant proportion of their own supply, in turn creating additional employment opportunities within the region,” she said.
Abba River dairy farmer Evelyn Brand said foreign investment was needed for the industry to be sustainable and threw her support behind the proposal.
Mrs Brand said increasing demand was essential to the future of the industry, and believed the plant could provide further opportunities for careers and skills training in the agricultural sector.
“Busselton needs an anchor in something, there is no specific industry in Busselton (and) tourism is too fickle,” she said.