Time to rally around affected workers as silver fern farms propose Fairton closure

21/08/2019 12:00 a.m.

Ashburton District Mayor, Donna Favel has today expressed sadness and great disappointment at the announcement that Silver Fern Farms is proposing to close its pelt processing operation in Fairton.

The Mayor said the proposal will undoubtedly be hard news for the 44 affected employees and their families, as well as the four affected employees that prepare pelts at the Pareora site.

"On behalf of the Council and our community, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to all those impacted by today's announcement.

"I have been assured that Silver Fern Farms is offering support to the employees affected. I'd also implore that our community look out for each other as well - especially in the coming weeks and months, and show our support for people who may be struggling during this difficult time."

The Fairton sheepmeat processing plant was closed in May 2017 following a decline in regional sheep numbers.

Silver Fern Farms reported that continued low sheepmeat numbers in the South Island has led to excess pelt processing capacity. Pelt processors are also seeing low returns from the global market. These factors, the company said, combined with high overhead costs, has made pelt processing unsustainable at Fairton.

Mayor Favel continued, "Although the conversion of much of our districts' farmland from sheep to dairy has boosted employment, it is evident that this has also inadvertently taken a toll on plants like Fairton.

"I hope those affected by the proposed closure who live in the Ashburton District will be able to remain here. The Ashburton District has low unemployment, and I'd encourage businesses in need of skilled labour to reach out and support these workers if they have positions available."

Silver Fern Farms plans to consolidate its South Island pelts at their Finegand pelt preparation facility. A final decision on the planned closure is expected to be made by the end of August 2019​.​

Page reviewed: 21 Aug 2019 9:03am