Loddon Shire agribusiness ventures in world class position

Published on 04 December 2015

Photo caption: Work begins on a hay shed set to feed the Japanese dairy industry.

A winning combination of Council foresight, business innovation and position perfect location is taking Loddon Shire produce to the world stage.

Loddon Shire Council Director of Economy and Community Bryan McEwan is convinced agribusiness opportunities within the municipality are limited only by the imagination.

“Back in 2006, Council purchased a 32 hectare site between Bridgewater and Derby which was earmarked as a potential industrial estate until Australia Hay presented itself as the perfect agribusiness development,” Mr McEwan said.

“Almost ten years on, that foresight is paying dividends with Hay Australia in the process of building the first of six huge hay sheds designed to feed world export markets in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China.”

Mr McEwan said Hay Australia’s development of the former Council owned land was a success story which mapped the way for other agribusiness export ventures.

“The Calder and traffic from the Loddon Valley Highway converge at Bridgewater, providing a funnel like access point between our thriving agricultural sector and the port of Melbourne.”

“Council is looking forward to seeing the completion of the Ravenswood Interchange Project and welcomes future improvements to access around Marong.”

“It’s vital we improve the productivity of the road network to create clear access to ports and maximise opportunities.”

Hay Australia Business Partner and Operations Manager Geoff Walker couldn’t agree more.

“Given such an ideal location, making the decision to invest and grow our business in Loddon Shire was easy,” Mr Walker said.

“Logistically we’re central to farms in areas such as Charlton, Boort, Raywood, Prairie and Serpentine, and only a two hour drive straight up the Calder Highway to the Port of Melbourne.”

“About 80 per cent of our Bridgewater hay goes to Japan and this week we’ve been hosting Japanese visitors right here in Loddon Shire.”

“Hay Australia really is opening a doorway which other agribusiness export ventures are able to walk through.”

Mr Walker said, while Hay Australia began operating about 10 years ago in Western Australia, when the company decided to expand into Victoria they were immediately drawn to Loddon Shire.

“About 15 month ago we built our plant shed, and the first of six hay sheds, which are each designed to hold between 8,000 and 10,000 tonnes of hay, is nearing completion.”

“If the seasons aren’t too dry and export conditions are favourable to support business growth, we hope to build one every two years.”

Mr Walker said his business currently employed 16 people and provided diversification opportunities for the Shire’s agriculture sector.

“Farmers here primarily had wool, sheep, cattle and cereal crops but now there are further opportunities available to meet the growing demand for hay to feed the Japanese dairy industry.”

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show agriculture to be by far the largest source of employment within Loddon Shire, and Mr McEwan’s business development projections suggest these figures will continue to grow.

“Hay Australia really is the ideal business to lead the way,” he said.

“What a statement those huge sheds make as we enter the southern end of the Shire.”

“They speak volumes about Loddon Shire, as hay, primary production and exporting first class produce to the rest of the world is what we’re all about.”

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Photo caption: This impressive aerial shot shows the sheer scale of sheds under construction at the southern end of Loddon Shire. Each shed has its own unique bar code wrapped over it.