Sigh of relief for all grow­ers


AN ANX­IOUS few months came to a head last week for all Queens­land and New South Wales cane grow­ers when the vote to dis­al­low the su­gar in­dus­try code of con­duct was put to the vote by NSW Lib­eral Demo­crat’s Se­na­tor David Ley­on­hjelm and was de­feated 37–18 in the Se­nate.

The com­fort in this for grow­ers has been that by the Se­na­tor putting this mo­tion for­ward it has re­in­forced what we have al­ways thought – that the ma­jor­ity of Se­na­tors sup­port us and our busi­nesses as Aus­tralian farm­ers, and also, just as im­por­tantly, the com­mu­ni­ties that rely on the su­gar in­dus­try for eco­nomic sur­vival. This sense­less move by Se­na­tor Ley­on­hjelm has un­for­tu­nately not only caused stress and anx­i­ety among grow­ers but has also again wreaked havoc on any progress in re­la­tion­ship build­ing be­tween grow­ers and millers since the three-year long mar­ket­ing de­ba­cle took place in the lead-up to the code of con­duct be­ing in­tro­duced. Un­der this code, grow­ers now have com­mer­cial fair­ness in ne­go­ti­a­tions, giv­ing us the com­fort to in­vest in fu­ture crops know­ing that we have an in­stru­ment to fall back on when millers flex their monopoly mus­cle.

It was most un­for­tu­nate for Se­na­tor Ley­on­hjelm that he did not go to any length to ed­u­cate him­self on the in­tri­ca­cies of this is­sue be­fore mak­ing a move that not only could have neg­a­tively im­pacted on the in­dus­try, but has also put his own po­lit­i­cal short­falls on dis­play for all to see.

In other re­cent news, the Mackay and Plane Creek re­gions were for­tu­nate to get rea­son­able falls of rain of up to 100mm that will now put the 2018 crop on a good foot­ing. The 2017 har­vest has been prov­ing a dif­fi­cult one with a re­duced crop and hav­ing to deal with dam­age and de­bris as a re­sult of the impacts of Cy­clone Deb­bie. Pre­vi­ous to th­ese re­cent falls, con­di­tions were be­com­ing dire with ra­toons strug­gling to re-ger­mi­nate and plant cane show­ing signs of mois­ture stress, tak­ing away from the de­vel­op­ment of the fledg­ling 2018 crop. In this re­gion we cel­e­brate the re­wards of the ben­e­fi­cial rain event that will only stall the 2017 har­vest for a short time. We keep in mind our coun­ter­parts in the south and north of us where the falls re­ceived in their re­gions have been ex­ces­sive, caus­ing ma­jor in­un­da­tion, not to men­tion the dif­fi­cul­ties to fi­nalise the 2017 har­vest.


UPDATE: Rain­fall is good for the 2018 sea­son.

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