King Island beef producers are wondering how they will export their livestock, after yesterday's sudden announcement that the island's abattoir is to close.
Currie Harbour, the main service port for King Island, may struggle to cope with increased live cattle shipments to the Tasmanian mainland.
JBS Australia says the abattoir will close immediately, because there's never been a profit since it acquired the business four years ago.
JBS has given an undertaking to continue to buy cattle on the island, process them in its Longford abattoir near Launceston, and maintain the premium King Island beef brand.
Beef producer and chairman of the King Island branch of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Jim Cooper, says farmers will have to rethink the marketing claim that the beef was grown and processed on the island.
He's also uncertain how the limited shipping service on King Island will be able to move the livestock.
"I guess our most frightening aspect is that we've got to try and ship 800 cattle off the island every week," he said.
"Just the sheer logistics of that, there will need to be a total rethink on how we move stock on and off the island."