Election spurs cane growers to seek more than promises
THE Queensland election was called on the weekend, bringing about a flurry of activity and promises from candidates campaigning and hoping to lead the direction of our state for the next four years.
The sugar industry, as a significant $2.5 billion export industry, is seeking commitments from the parties that will secure the livelihoods of all Queenslanders who rely on the sugar industry directly and indirectly.
Rising production costs consistently place Australia’s sugar industry on a razor’s edge when it comes to international competitiveness.
Immediate action on a long-term strategy to control electricity prices is needed to relieve crippling costs as this directly impacts irrigation and crop production.
Specifically, we are urging these parties to commit to cut electricity prices by 33 per cent.
Maintain grower choice in sugar marketing: Our industry needs a competitive sugar marketing environment and continuous development and improvement within the industry to prosper and for growers to confidently plan for the future. After a long, hard fight to secure grower rights and competition within sugar marketing, we now need the next Queensland government to ensure growers maintain this access to a choice of sugar marketing services.
To ensure industry growth and security we need government to fund industry research and development, we need it to encourage renewable energy projects and to use and invest in rural infrastructure.
The environment all industries and communities rely on has never been more important, but poorly designed and implemented regulations ensuring sustainability will hurt our state’s farm businesses, stifle innovation and reduce performance.
A responsible and proactive state government, in prioritising the future of the Queensland sugar industry, would remove regulations on farming practices in Great Barrier Reef catchments and recognise Smartcane BMP as the most enduring way for industry to meet its obligations to improve water quality.
The adoption of Smartcane BMP among growers is high, with 70 per cent of Queensland’s cane area currently benchmarked to the core water quality modules.
We are calling on the future state government to commit to $7.2M in funding to Smartcane BMP over the next four years to assist industry to support the Great Barrier Reef water quality targets.
A government in tune with agriculture would also stabilise Queensland’s vegetation management framework, including provisions for high value agriculture and high value irrigated agricultural land, self-assessable clearing codes, and provide incentives for proactive management.
I urge Queenslanders, and everyone involved in the sugar industry, to listen seriously to the parties leading into the State Election to assess their commitment to agriculture and its future in the state of Queensland.
The sugar industry has in recent years faced unprecedented challenges from sugar marketing monopoly battles threatening to throw growers to the mercy of millers to ever-changing politically-driven environmental rules, regulations and monitoring.
Queensland cannot advance primary production while at the same time stifling growth with over-regulation and debilitating restrictions.
Take heed, and vote for the future of agriculture in this upcoming election.
NOT JUST PROMISES: Growers seek commitments from all parties this Queensland election.