Sugar price fall leaves sour taste
QUEENSLAND canegrowers, who have endured boom and bust for more than a century, are weathering an ugly crash in the sugar price that many fear may accelerate an exodus from the iconic industry.
Sugar is now hovering between 10 and 11 US cents a pound, well below the cost of production, while a massive global surplus gives little hope of a price improvement over the next year or two.
Just two years ago, sugar was more than 22 cents a pound, as farmers who had diversified into other crops looked to return to sugar to reap the substantial rewards.
But Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri says Queensland farmers are increasingly the victims of subsidies in competing countries.
India has gone from producing 20 million tonnes to 30 million in the past decade using government protections.
“If this was a case of supply and demand we would be OK, but this current global surplus is being underwritten by subsidies,’’ Mr Schembri said. “The global commentary suggests the price is not going to lift anytime soon and if the price stays in this place it will cause serious economic problems.’’