Peter Carlill.
Peter Carlill. The Northern Star

Abattoir chief retires after nine years' service

PETER Carlill was born to be on the land.

A fifth-generation farmer, his great-grandfather Thomas Carlill was Casino's first butcher and built the third home in the town.

Mr Carlill, who has retired as chairman of the Northern Co-operative Meat Company after nine years, is also a pioneer.

“I was one of three farmers who first grew soybeans on the North Coast,” he said. “I grew them for 34 years with the help of agronomist Doug Quirk. At the same time we pioneered cereal crops in the area.”

Always an innovator, Mr Carlill had a colourful career in agriculture.

In his youth he was active in the Junior Farmers organisation, a role which won him a six-month trip around the world for his project on pig raising.

Mr Carlill's career began with pigs and then dairy cows on his Edenville property.

After his father died in 1967, Mr Carlill began looking into different forms of farming.

“Agriculture and land use has changed during my time on the Northern Rivers,” he said.

“We had to do something (after dairy) so we bought land for crops.”

The 60ha dairy farm has grown to 400ha during his time there.

“My father added 80ha and I've been adding over the years,” he said.

“I've lived on a farm since I was eight. I always wanted to be a farmer.”

He stood for the board of the Northern Co-operative Meat Company in 1981 and has been a director ever since, building his life around the meatworks.

“It opened a lot of doors,” Mr Carlill said of his role.

“I walk out with a lot of satisfaction, knowing I did my best.

“There were some tough decisions over the years. Some you support passionately, and others you don't.”

Some of the bigger changes he has been a part of are packaging, transport, and new systems.

“We learnt to be in front of food safety, security and environmental issues,” he said.

“Meat used to go away in carcase form, now nearly everything is vacuum packed.

“When I first started at the meatworks we were slaughtering sheep, pigs and goats.”

Now that the reins have been passed on to George Bennett, formerly a pig farmer, stock and station agent, and now organic cropping farmer, Mr Carlill will have more time to travel with his wife Robyn and see more of his family.

“Everyone says to themselves 'I'll do that when I have time'. If you don't make time you won't do it,” he said.

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