Grower-leaders will have plenty of positives to discuss when CANEGROWERS’ eight-member board gathers for its February meeting in Gordonvale (Far North Qld) this week.
Significant rainfall across the North of the state has brought welcome relief to parched cane-growing communities along Queensland’s coast, with some areas recording their highest monthly rainfall totals for more than a year.
After two years of disappointing crops, the much-needed rain brings hope for a better growing season in 2020. However, relief is still desperately needed in Queensland’s drought-declared southern growing regions, despite some welcome downpours in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, a rally on the global market that pushed world sugar prices to a 15-month high, has also given growers a renewed sense of optimism, following a dismal 2019 season that saw prices floundering below the cost of production.
Despite the positive outlook, there is still much work to be done, with a number of significant challenges facing the industry in 2020, CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said.
“Whilst the rain is very welcome and the sugar prices are improving, nobody believes our problems are over,” Mr Schembri said.
“Indian sugar production has surged based on high levels of government sponsored cane price support. This has been the single greatest influence weighing down the world price in the last few years.
“It is our view that these subsidies are a blatant breach of WTO rules. So, despite world prices improving, the Australian sugar industry will not be easing back on the throttle in our campaign to end Indian export subsidies.”
Looming Local Government and State elections will also feature prominently on the Board’s agenda, with grower representatives from across the state determined to ensure agricultural issues are front and centre in the minds of politicians seeking election.
“If 2020 was a sporting season, the State Election would be the grand final. But the local government elections being held on 28 March are a critical preliminary,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said.
“Decisions made at the local government level have a significant and profound impact on our industry. For that reason, CANEGROWERS will be working with our 13 district companies to monitor the campaign and encourage agricultural issues to be at the forefront of the minds of councillors as they pledge to work for the future of their communities.”
The Board will also reaffirm its unwavering support for Tully grower-members in their dispute with Tully Sugar Limited, as they progress through a process of arbitration under the industry Code of Conduct.