Crushing blow for our canegrowers

THE canegrowing industry stands to lose about $15 million with projected crushing estimates this year 300,000 tonnes fewer than in 2012.

Following the double whammy of floods and cyclones earlier in the year and with fewer than three months before the next harvest season, canegrowers were facing an anxious future.

Bundaberg Cane Growers senior deputy chairman Tony Castro, among the lucky ones to escape damage to property, said the $15 million loss was a conservative estimate at best.

"Any farms that were along either the Burnett or Kolan Rivers are going to have reduced tonnages," he said.

"Some of them have lost their crop because it was under water for too long."

With 1.82 million tonnes of cane crushed in 2012 and 1.5 million predicted by the industry for 2013, Mr Castro said it could be years before the industry got back on its feet.

"It could take seven years to get back to where we were," he said.

"To make it sustainable in the immediate future I think it will take about two years."

Mr Castro said the State and Federal Governments' Category D funding which offered primary producers a loan and grant package of up to $650,000, would help the industry rebuild.

"This will go a long way to getting the industry back on its feet," he said.

"There will be some growers that would have had access to low interest loans two years ago so this has a compounding effect."

Mr Castro said the ripple effect would be felt in places like Bundaberg, Childers and Gin Gin as service providers and suppliers would see a reduction in their income.

"Growers will not have the disposable cash they had prior to the floods," he said.

"All their capital will be spent on restoring the entire infrastructure on their farms."

Mr Castro said sugarcane prices would not necessarily be affected by the disaster because those were determined by the world market.

Topics:  cane sugar

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