Bundy Cane­grower's 'heroic' con­tri­bu­tion

Tony Castro ap­plauded at Cane­grow­ers din­ner

NewsMail - Wide Bay Rural Weekly - - Front Page -

WHEN Tony Castro was a young man, like many oth­ers, he took flight from the fam­ily farm out­side Bund­aberg.

“I went out work­ing else­where for about nine years af­ter I fin­ished school,” the cane grower said.

But the life of a cane farmer brought him back.

“Work­ing on a farm is more than just a job,” he said.

“It can be re­ferred to as a life­style.

“Hav­ing grown up on a cane farm and help­ing my fa­ther on week­ends and af­ter school, it was al­ways this quiet pas­sion within me to come back to the farm.”

He re­turned to his fam­ily’s Mead­ow­vale prop­erty in 1990 and has been there ever since – but he is not one con­tent to stay in­side the farm fence.

Mr Castro has spent the past nine years fight­ing for the in­dus­try on the board, and later the pol­icy coun­cil, of Cane­grow­ers Queens­land.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing up his state du­ties this year, he was “hum­bled” to be recog­nised in front of his peers this week at a Cane­grow­ers din­ner in Bris­bane.

Chair­man Paul Schem­bri pre­sented Mr Castro with a scythe as a sym­bol of ap­pre­ci­a­tion for one of the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s long­est serv­ing board mem­bers in re­cent years.

“Tony has been an out­stand­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Cane­grow­ers,” Mr Schem­bri said.

“His most im­pres­sive qual­i­ties are his ca­pac­ity to see the big pic­ture, the need for change and lead­er­ship on a large board of peo­ple.

“He was a bedrock for the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Peo­ple like Tony were in­valu­able in driv­ing the lead­er­ship re­quired in a lot of change and tur­bu­lence.”

This change in­cluded the dereg­u­la­tion of the sugar in­dus­try, re­struc­tur­ing of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and chal­lenges like sugar mar­ket­ing con­trol and elec­tric­ity prices.

“Through­out my work­ing ca­reer I’ve al­ways be­lieved there is no point sit­ting on the side­lines and com­plain­ing about some­thing with­out mak­ing an ef­fort and a con­tri­bu­tion,” Mr Castro said.

“I joined the Bund­aberg Cane­grow­ers com­mit­tee way back in 1991 and it’s been a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion.”

Wil­mar’s ac­tions over the past three years spurred grow­ers to take a stance on ex­port mar­ket­ing ar­range­ments, he said.

“Whilst I fin­ished on the pol­icy coun­cil be­fore we achieved a change in the leg­is­la­tion to give grow­ers a choice, it was well and truly on the agenda and it was pleas­ing to get that through the par­lia­ment.”

The other on­go­ing is­sue high on the Cane­grow­ers agenda is the cost of elec­tric­ity.

“While we haven’t fully achieved the out­come we wanted, we have moved a long way into sourc­ing al­ter­nate en­ergy sources like so­lar and we are still look­ing at other forms of en­ergy sup­ply.”

PHOTO: EL­IZA GOETZE

AT HOME: Tony Castro plans to keep busy with his farm, Cane­grow­ers Bund­aberg and TheWaves sports club.

HEROIC CON­TRI­BU­TION: Cane­grow­ers' Paul Schem­bri con­grat­u­lates Mr Castro in Bris­bane on Mon­day night.

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