Beef and milk factory planned for Darling Downs

A Toowoomba construction company is seeking council approval to build an $80 million beef and milk processing facility on Queensland's Darling Downs.

The ABC reports that FK Gardiner and Sons (FKG) submitted a development application to local council to build the facility near Charlton on the outskirts of Toowoomba.

Group manager of property development with FKG, Dallas Hunter told the ABC that, if approved, the facility would handle 10,000 head of cattle a week and employ 300 workers. It could be up and running by 2017.

FKG is best known as a civil construction company. However, it also has a history of involvement in agriculture. As the Toowoomba Chronicle reports, the company now runs 11,000 hectares of agricultural property near Cecil Plains and, as such, is the Darling Downs' biggest farming company.

Hunter told the Chronicle the new facility would help diversify the company’s operations.

"With the slowdown in the gas industry, we're hoping agriculture might fill the gap,” he said.

"We're spreading the company as wide as we can as part of our risk management and diversification."

He said there was demand for Australian food from overseas and the produce could be exported from the Wellcamp Airport.

Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio told the ABC that the airport, along with other other new infrastructure such as the range crossing and the possibility of inland rail mean Toowoomba has the potential to become a food processing hub of the future.