Cane growers start 2016 with optimism

Cane growers start 2016 with optimism
January 20 2016

Cane growers start 2016 with optimism

Queensland’s sugarcane growers are starting 2016 on an optimistic footing with some good summer rain so far in many districts and negotiations set to start on future mill supply contracts which will ensure competition and choice in the sugar market.

“Amendments to the Sugar Industry Act late last year mean that growers must be engaged when determining a marketing path from the 2017 season,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said. “We are facing the future with renewed confidence!”

2016 will be the year for the industry to negotiate new Cane Supply Agreements with CANEGROWERS ready to robustly represent its members to ensure the objectives of the amendments, of fairness and choice, are met in workable and sensible arrangements that work for all parties.

“We can negotiate with confidence knowing we have the safeguard of the new competition provisions in the Act and the option to call in an independent arbiter if needed,” Mr Schembri said.

“This guaranteed landscape of transparent and competitive sugar marketing makes the farming of sugarcane an attractive investment option – especially as we are seeing the world sugar price climbing,” he said.

“Global stocks are also dwindling to the point that 2015-16 could usher in the first global deficit in five years - this means our quality, sustainably produced sugar will be in high demand.”

The world sugar price sank to levels below the Australian cost of production in 2015 but by the end of the year prices had firmed. The low Australian dollar has also worked to strengthen returns to Australian sugarcane farmers.

In other positive news for Australian farmers, 2015 ended with the World Trade Organisation ruling that export subsidies would not be permitted among its 160 member countries.

“In one fell swoop this decision removes a market distortion that has cruelled Australia’s 4,000 cane producers in the past,” Mr Schembri said. “We welcome the commitment to a more level playing field.”

The 2015 season ended on 4 January 2016 with a total of 32.6 million tonnes of cane harvested in Queensland.

“This is a wonderful outcome and a tribute to the skills of the farmers in our industry given that central and northern growing districts finished the year with rainfall deficits,” Mr Schembri said.

“The Bureau of Meteorology total for Mackay, where I have my farm, was just 851mm last year – well below its official annual average of 1606mm.

“For me and my neighbours that meant our paddocks didn’t produce to their full potential and this is something we are hoping to turn around this year.”

The Burdekin irrigation region remains in drought (Ayr recorded 445mm of rain last year below half of its annual average of 952mm) while further north where crops rely on rainfall, it failed to arrive during the growing season but caused delays and problems during the harvest.

“Up and down the coast growers are watching the sky daily for storm clouds and hoping that this season delivers timely rain,” Mr Schembri said. “With the right weather, 2016 could surpass last year’s harvest total.

“With the right sugar marketing framework in place now, we have the confidence to plant more cane and grow our industry into the future.”


Media comment:            Paul Schembri  |  CANEGROWERS Chairman  |  0417 604 196
More information:          Neroli Roocke  |  CANEGROWERS Communications  |  0418 871 881