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Frustrated cane farmers unite on Facebook

Farmers have started a Facebook group to save Mackay's mills.
Farmers have started a Facebook group to save Mackay's mills. Peter Holt

A LACK of faith in the performance across Mackay Sugar's mills has prompted farmers to take action.

The Help Me Save Our Mackay Sugar Mills Facebook page has had more than 400 likes since being established about two weeks ago.

The site's aim is clear: "To obtain the written support on a petition from as many cane growers/shareholders, as we believe the Mackay Sugar Board has lost its focus."

Grower Noel Durnsford, one of the farmers behind the Facebook page, said the organisers were not ready to make an official comment to the media at this stage.

Mackay Sugar chief executive officer Quinton Hildebrand said management was aware of the page.

"The Mackay Sugar Board and management met with Mr Durnsford about his concerns in December," Mr Hildebrand said.

"We have engaged with growers and shareholders regarding the poor milling performance experienced in the 2013 season and have provided details on what we are doing about it."

He said the mills' performance had been addressed at the annual general meeting last October, as well as at recent grower Consultative Group Forums and ongoing meetings with the elected Canegrowers Mackay Area Committee.

"Next week we will have a series of shed meetings throughout the district to further engage with our shareholders," Mr Hildebrand said.

Milling performance was a hot topic amongst farmers during last year's crushing.

Poor growing conditions led to a small crop of about 5 million tonnes across the region.

Farmers were keen for a quick season, but milling breakdowns pushed the end date back to November.

Topics:  facebook farmers mackay sugar