Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and the Minister for Agriculture Senator The Hon. Bridget McKenzie today inspected the progress of Norco’s $30 million extension of its Ice-Cream facility in Lismore.
“Norco is a fantastic example of what farmers can do when they work together,” Minister McKenzie said
“I am passionate about producers gaining market power and have long been a champion for cooperatives and mutuals, having wrote the Nationals policy on this.
“The Nationals in government have strongly supported cooperatives in agriculture. We have made positive changes to the Corporations Act, invested in building more cooperatives like Farming Together and supported existing cooperatives like Norco to grow.
Mr Hogan said: “The $30 million expansion is on schedule with final designs going to the Norco board within the next couple of weeks for approval.
“Once complete, the expansion will secure the jobs of 830 employees across all of the Norco businesses and ensure the sustainability of its 200 farm members,” Mr Hogan said.
The Government is contributing $15 million to make the expansion possible.
“Norco came to me with plans to substantially increase production capacity and improve efficiencies at their Lismore Ice-Cream factory to ensure the job security of its more than 200 existing employees at that site and to expand its workplace, including employing more apprentices.
“I worked with them to get the funding so its plans could go ahead.
“This is great news for Norco employees, those looking for work and our local dairy industry.
“The substantial increase in capacity and efficiency improvements will provide a solid basis on which the milk price paid to Norco’s 200 member farms can improve for each farm once the plant upgrade is completed. This will make our members and the dairy industry in our region more sustainable.
“This additional farm income will be spent locally in our shops and businesses, further strengthening our economy.”
Norco Acting Chief Executive Greg McNamara said the project must be completed in a time frame of three years.
“Norco is excited to have been selected as a recipient of the Federal Government’s funding of almost $15m which will be matched dollar for dollar by Norco,” he said.
“We have a list of identified projects and are basically ready to start. It is our intention to complete the project works as soon as practically possible which may be as early as mid-2021.”
The $30 million project includes the construction of a two storey building to accommodate the two spiral freezer tunnels, the installation of a fully automated robotic palletising system, ice cream manufacturing equipment and raw product / recovery vats.