AUSTRALIA: Deputy PM to meet with cane growers this weekend

Published: 02/17/2017, 9:29:03 AM

Cane growers are expected to come out in force on the weekend when Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce heads north to meet farmers, according to Australia's Queensland Country Life.

Joyce will tour a mango farm at Mareeba and a banana operation at Tully on Saturday morning before travelling to Ingham for a sugar cane growers ‘shed' meeting.

On Sunday, Minister Joyce will also attend a cane growers rally at Ayr organised by Queensland's Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry MP Dale Last. 

Chairman of CANEGROWERS Mackay and Wilmar Sugar supplier Kevin Borg said growers were extremely frustrated that even after a 48-hour deadline given to Wilmar Sugar and Queensland Sugar Limited by the Liberal National Party (LNP) nothing had been resolved around the issue of sugar marketing. 

However, Borg said the ultimatum from the LNP had drawn out a spate of ‘ridiculous propaganda' from the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) and the Palaszczuk Government.

"With all the to-ing and fro-ing and political sprucing, the fact is nothing is being resolved," Borg said.

"While everyone is out there in the public arena throwing accusations at each other, it begs the question where is the ACCC in this?

"We are talking about the blatant abuse of monopoly powers here in Australia - seriously, where are they?"

Borg said Wilmar Sugar was still quietly thumbing its nose at the Australian political system, legislation and Australian farming families.

"It defies belief that Wilmar can continue to be uncooperative and unethical, apparently with no consequence."

Borg, along with the CEO of CANEGROWERS Mackay Kerry Latter, as well as other Wilmar Sugar suppliers from the Plane Creek mill area, will travel to the Burdekin town of Ayr on Sunday to attend the rally. 

Along with Minister Joyce, the rally will be attended by the Leader of the LNP Opposition Queensland MP Tim Nichols and Federal Member for Dawson MP George Christensen.

"We don't expect a resolution at this meeting, but we do expect a strategy, a plan of action - anything that will lead to a satisfactory outcome for both parties - voluntary or forced through government intervention, something must be done," Borg said.

"Growers have never wanted everything their own way, marketing choice is a compromise that gives Wilmar the opportunity to be selected as the marketer for growers Economic Interest Sugar on the same commercial footing as the Australian sugar industry's long-standing, non-profit sugar marketing entity QSL.

"Wilmar Sugar on the other hand wants its suppliers to have no choice but to market through them, and surely that kind of monopoly is unacceptable on every level in our country," he said.

"In addition, Wilmar is defying our government by not heeding the intent of legislation passed through parliament over a year ago - growers do not understand why it is taking so long to bring this Singaporean-owned miller into line."

Borg said proof of the legislation's workability and potential success for millers abiding by legislation could not be more evident than with MSF Sugar - Australia's third largest miller and second largest raw sugar exporter.

Thursday MSF celebrated attracting its largest share of tonnage to market than ever before through building good relationships with its suppliers and offering market choice.

The Burdekin meeting will be held at the Burdekin Theatre, Ayr on Sunday, February 19 from 1pm to 3pm.​