Australia’s sugarcane growers are worried a shortage of workers could mean they’ll struggle to harvest a good-looking and sizeable crop this year so peak grower organisation CANEGROWERS is calling for people with experience to head north for winter.
“This year’s crop is looking bigger than last year’s 30 million tonnes in the cane growing regions of Queensland and northern New South Wales,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “But we are facing a challenge across the industry to put crews in the machinery and vehicles needed to cut the cane and take it to the sugar mills.”
From Mossman in Far North Queensland to Grafton in New South Wales, the annual cane harvest is a huge undertaking and people with relevant skills are being urged to register their interest on the CANEGROWERS website Work in the Industry page.
“The industry has a fleet of around 700 harvesters and each needs a crew of at least three – one harvester driver and two operators of haulout vehicles to take the cut cane from the fields to transport delivery points,” Mr Galligan said.
“These jobs are rewarding, and the communities and locations are dynamic. Sugarcane grows in some very iconic landscapes, and we are inviting skilled workers to share our piece of paradise.”
96% of CANEGROWERS members who responded to a recent poll said that last season they, or their contractors, had experienced disruptions to farming operations because of a lack of workers and they’re worried the situation will be repeated in 2022.
“Sugarcane growers are resilient, facing extreme weather, riding the rollercoaster of global sugar prices and navigating a complicated regulatory environment. Until recently, labour shortages weren’t such a challenge,” Mr Galligan said.
“CANEGROWERS is reaching out to agricultural workers, recent retirees and people with experience who want to travel to Queensland, soak up the winter sunshine, and put their skills to work.
“State borders are no longer an impediment, and we know that our harvest period coincides with a quieter time for some other industries, freeing up workers with experience and skills in truck and tractor driving, agricultural machinery operation and maintenance.”
The cane harvest usually runs from June to early Dec, dependant on weather and mill operations and reliability.
“We are calling for interested people to contact CANEGROWERS. We will pass on their details to growers and contractors via the Work in the Industry page of the CANEGROWERS website aiming to match their needs with skilled people,” Mr Galligan said.
“This is a perfect opportunity for workers who have finished seasonal jobs elsewhere to keep earning while also exploring our beautiful part of Australia – the rainforest, waterfalls and of course the Great Barrier Reef which is just next door.”
CANEGROWERS members as business owners need to comply with all relevant workplace health and safety requirements and there are specific industry awards covering pay rates.