AN UNDERSUPPLY of livestock has forced the local meatworks to bring its Christmas shutdown forward.
The Northern Co-operative Meat Company (NCMC) has informed staff that while there will be no retrenchments of permanent staff, affected casual workers will be stood down in a week's time.
Chief Executive Officer Simon Stahl said a stock decline of 30% meant they were unable to operate at peak capacity.
"Australia has gone from a 35 year high in herd numbers to a 20 year low in just two years," he said.
"NCMC is still in a sound position and we have expected and planned for this seasonal downturn."
Mr Stahl said Australian beef processors have been operating at 30% above normal capacity for the last two and a half years as producers have had to respond to the ongoing drought conditions by turning in their cattle for processing.
With a more positive outlook over most of NSW farmers have now turned back to herd-building.
NCMC will run one processing floor for beef and veal for the rest of the year and reassess the situation in January.