ACFA urge no to sugar vote
THE Australian Cane Farmers Association is urging farmers to vote no on the proposal for a single research and development organisation for the industry.
Cane farmers are being asked to vote on the proposal from the Australian Sugar Industry Alliance (ASA), Canegrowers and the Australian Sugar Milling Council urging a yes vote for the formation of Sugar Research Australia, to replace the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations and the Sugar Research Development Corporation.
ACFA chairman Don Murday said his organisation would continue to support BSES and recommended farmers vote no in the sugar poll, to be conducted this month.
“ASA would have us believe that BSES is no longer sustainable, but this is not the case,” Mr Murday said.
“We know there is an issue with funding BSES, but creating a single statutory body is not the answer.
“The ACFA is proposing a united plan based on the current system which would also require 50/50 farmer and miller funding and a compulsory levy similar to the amount suggested by ASA.
“It is the mills that have us in this position because it’s all about control and they see research as a cost to the industry when it fact it is a vital component if we are to move forward.”
If cane farmers vote ’no’, BSES and Sugar Research Development Corporation would have funds collected by SRDC who in turn would fund BSES’s core activities.
Mr Murday said a “no” vote will also mean cane farmers are not deprived of their voice as a result of the formation of one research and development body, Sugar Research Australia.
“One statutory body would not be able to provide a fair and equal representation of the cane farmers of Queensland and northern NSW,” he said.
“To have one organisation responsible for funding and research is a blatant conflict of interest. With the formation of one single body, there will be little competition and research and development will become stagnant.
“The current model is competi- tive and transparent and provides cane growers with a real choice.
“The debate has been one-sided with the ASA railroading farmers into accepting its own agenda which is heavily influenced by the mills, not grass-roots cane farmers.
“Quite simply, a ’yes’ vote will result in the sugar research industry being ’sold out’ to the highest bidder.”
Mossman Canegrowers chairman Drew Watson last week urged local farmers to support the merger which he believed would benefit the industry.
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