Tully sugarcane growers are relieved they will start the 2020 harvest with a workable contract to supply their local sugar mill after arbitration broke an 18-month long deadlock in negotiations with its owners.
Backed by members, the CANEGROWERS Tully leadership instigated arbitration under a provision of the Federal Sugar Code of Conduct.
Chairman Jamie Dore said the 60-day process with an appointed arbitrator was arduous and the outcome, in terms of the detail of the outstanding issues, was mixed.
“What we got was a determination and a resolution. The deadlock with Tully Sugar Ltd was broken via a fair process and that provided the certainty that we all need to get on with the season ahead,” he said.
“Without recourse to the Code we would still be sitting here, five weeks from the start of the season, without an acceptable Cane Supply Agreement for members to consider.
“The Code has delivered for growers and given us an outcome. Our experience shows that the code extremely valuable and it works,” Mr Dore said.
The Cane Supply Agreement is now being presented to CANGROWERS Tully members to sign.
CANEGROWERS argued strongly for the Code when it was under consideration by the Federal Government in 2017 and defended it strongly during a review last year.
“What the Tully outcome shows is that the Code does work, it does what it was designed to do – provide a mechanism to resolve dispute between growers and millers,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said.
“Since our industry Code was put in place, codes have been developed for dairy, horticulture, grain handling.
“Most Australians believe that Australian farmers need a fair go and that Codes help to deliver that in situations where there is a power imbalance in negotiations.”