ACFA urge no to su­gar vote

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

Photo by TOM LEE

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