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In action ... Blue Sky Meats' processing plant in Gore is being leased to process cattle infected with Mycoplasma bovis. PHOTO: MARGARET PHILLIPS

The Ministry for Primary Industries has leased Blue Sky Meats’ processing plant in Gore to process dairy stock infected with Mycoplasma bovis.

The plant, formerly known as Clover Meats, shut down in November 2016 because of low financial margins.

Blue Sky Meats chief executive Todd Grave said the company had leased the plant to government agency AsureQuality.

“We’re doing our bit because there is not a lot of capacity at this time of the year,” Mr Grave said.

“It’s in our interest to help out if we can.”

AsureQuality would use the plant to process cattle up to 1 year old (R1), Mr Grave said.

The lease was a short-term agreement, he said.

“We envisage another one to two months leasing to them.”

Mr Grave said there had been some confusion as to who was operating the plant and he wanted to stress the AsureQuality operation at the Gore plant was completely separate from Blue Sky’s processing operation.

None of Blue Sky’s staff had been employed by AsureQuality, he said.

An MPI spokesman said the plant had been leased for three months, initially from April 16 but there was an option to extend the lease if needed.

Processing at the Gore plant started on April 18.

“To be clear, no cattle are being processed for consumption at this site.

“The only animals culled here are underweight animals that cost more to process than their meat value [R1 calves].”

The Gore plant was being used “purely” as a humane slaughter facility for those animals.

The temporary Gore operation was being managed for the MPI by AsureQuality.

Four or five staff members would be on site each day.

“The site was signed off by MPI vets as fit for purpose. It has also had routine visits from the MPI vet team to collect samples for laboratory testing.”

Between 100 and 200 R1 calves were being processed at the Gore plant each day.