Bridgewater hub of hay under way

THE eastern entrance to Bridgewater could become a major hay processing and export hub in the coming years.

Hay Australia's construction of a 7000 square metre shed is nearing completion, which will provide storage for 3500 tonnes of hay as well as processing equipment.

The company plans to construct a further six 7200 square metre storage sheds at the 39 hectare site on the Calder Highway.

Loddon Shire Council chief executive officer John McLinden said the project is a major vote of confidence in the region's hay industry.

"Hay Australia is already active in Western Australia and have made the decision to set up in Victoria now the region has recovered from the drought," he said.

"The aim is to have it processing hay for the end of the coming season in spring."

The first shed is divided into half hay processing and half storage.

Hay Australia will purchase hay from contract growers to be pulled apart, blended and compressed for specific agricultural industries.

Loddon Shire Council bought the land to develop as an industrial estate and later sold it to Hay Australia.

Shire mayor Gavan Holt said the decision to buy the land had paid off.

"I remember years ago when we bought this site there was some controversy over it," he said.

"We said one day we would land a big fish over here and we've finally done that."

The state government will provide $300,000 for the initial $4 million project, to cover road access, and electricity and water connections.

Agriculture and food security Minister Peter Walsh visited the site with Nationals Ripon candidate Scott Turner on Wednesday.

Mr Walsh said the development will provide a "significant economic boost" to the Bridgewater area.

"It will create 15 jobs in manufacturing and agriculture, and will inject an additional $700,000 per year in wages and salaries into the local economy," he said.

"Once the processing facility is complete, up to 60,000 tonnes of hay will be exported each year - with an estimated value of up to $20 million per year."

Hay Australia managing director Andrew Bolt said the company gave local producers a "good market opportunity into China, Japan and Taiwan".

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