Farm­ers want a say

Townsville Bulletin - - Investor - by Martin Rasini martin. rasini@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

THE Aus­tralian Cane Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion is call­ing for ma­jor changes to the sugar in­dus­try in­clud­ing re­struc­ture of the board of ex­porter Queens­land Sugar whose $ 105 mil­lion 2010 sea­son trad­ing losses have set millers and grow­ers at odds.

Chair­man Don Mur­day said yes­ter­day while cane farm­ers had a ma­jor stake in QSL, they had no say in its con­duct as it was run by an in­de­pen­dent four-mem­ber board.

‘‘ We want to see at least one grower and one miller rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the com­pany’s board,’’ he said. ‘‘ We also want QSL to op­er­ate its own pric­ing pool, so that grow­ers have an al­ter­na­tive to pools run by millers.’’

Mr Mur­day, whose or­gan­i­sa­tion has 700 grower mem­bers from NSW to Moss­man, said the ACFA had fought to re­tain farmer direc­tors of QSL, and there­fore farmer over­sight of its op­er­a­tions, when the or­gan­i­sa­tion was re­struc­tured, but its voice was ig­nored.

‘‘ Also, when the sugar in­dus­try was dereg­u­lated, the ACFA op­posed hand­ing own­er­ship of sugar to milling com­pa­nies, a battle it also lost,’’ he said.

‘‘ The 2010 sea­son ex­pe­ri­ence vin­di­cates its po­si­tion and high­lights the need for farm­ers to have a say in the han­dling of mat­ters af­fect­ing their liveli­hood, which has been opaque at best, while some as­pects have been to­tally hid­den.’’

Mr Mur­day said QSL had no ca­pac­ity to bear the wetweather-en­gen­dered 2010 sea­son trad­ing losses, which had to be handed to the in­dus­try.

There is now dis­pute be­tween some millers and grow­ers as t o how t he $ 105 mil­lion losses should be met and Su­cro­gen, which is to bear a $ 60.9 mil­lion cost, has called for farm­ers to con­trib­ute two-thirds, or more than $ 40 mil­lion.

It is un­der­stood that con­tract ar­range­ments call for losses to be al­lo­cated across fixed-pric­ing plat­forms, al­though Su­cro­gen is urg­ing that it be al­lo­cated across the shared pool, or to­tal sugar ton­nage.

Grow­ers are an­gry about calls for them to stump up funds and legal ac­tion is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Mr Mur­day said he be­lieved there was po­ten­tial for class ac­tion, with grow­ers in some ar­eas hav­ing a bet­ter case than oth­ers.

Mr Mur­day said ACFA planned to play a role on an in­dus­try work­ing group be­ing es­tab­lished by QSL to look at pric­ing, fore­cast­ing and risk man­age­ment.

CHANGE: The Lucinda bulk sugar ter­mi­nal trans­ports raw sugar

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.