Gunnedah Saleyards' $17.5 million master plan has sparked a new agricultural vision for the shire.
After the plan was passed in this week's council meeting, shire mayor Jamie Chaffey told the NVI processing was an industry with "huge potential" and was "the way forward for Gunnedah".
"We've made it very clear that in our economic development focus we see processing as ... the next strong pillar in our economy," he said.
"For myself, I see it as a lost opportunity when any agricultural product in our shire leaves our shire before it's had the opportunity to be processed, because that value-adding process means extra jobs and more money in our community ... and that's what's important to us."
Cr Chaffey said the saleyards already had "a great reputation as a quality location to produce beef".
Now they wanted to "take it that next step further and become recognised as a major centre for high-quality beef in Australia".
"We've been working for some time to see the establishment of a beef abattoir and, to best support the supply of beef into that abattoir, we have a focus on seeing more feedlots established through the shire as well as expansion of existing feedlots," he said.
"The abattoir is one that will employ more than 200 people, and that's very significant for a growing community like Gunnedah and, importantly, it will add the diversity that we're searching for. However, we're ... not wholly and solely focused on an abattoir.
"We have an adequate water supply ... and understand what our natural endowments are, what our high-quality agricultural products are, [and] we're looking at other opportunities in available land and the natural water resources."
I see it as a lost opportunity when any agricultural product in our shire leaves our shire before it's had the opportunity to be processed.Jamie Chaffey, Gunnedah shire mayor
The saleyards master plan will include a state-of-the-art office, cafe and education centre, biosecurity improvements, new technology, security fencing and infrastructure upgrades.
The project will include the removal of the sheepyards, yard expansion, technology upgrades, and relocation of the car park and canteen as part of a multi-use building on the same side as the saleyards.
No formal submissions were made about the master plan, but Cr Chaffey said that was testament to strong engagement with the community and stakeholders during its development.
Councillors voted this week to start work on developing the master plan into one or more "shovel-ready" projects to seek funding.
They will also look at options for multi-purpose use of the upgraded buildings included in the master plan.