Positive year for support and industry growth

THIS column will be my last for the 2013 year - an appropriate time to reflect on the positives achieved by our state member-based organisation CANEGROWERS Queensland, and on our home turf CANEGROWERS Mackay.

CANEGROWERS Mackay can attribute many of the following positives to the access we are generously afforded by the Rural Weekly each fortnight.

With the harvest behind us, and a reasonably good start to the 2014 crop, we hope the weather remains favourable and CANEGROWERS Mackay can negotiate a resolution to the milling issues encountered throughout the year.

Red witchweed: We were very relieved to hear that the four cane producers in the Mackay region with red witchweed on their properties had successfully completed their harvest despite the presence of this weed. This is a great outcome for these cane growers and I commend their resilience, cooperation and commitment to working through the problem.

Sugar Research Australia (SRA): Our new industry-driven research and development body was formed earlier this year, and its board is currently working through the SRA strategic plan. It looks set to be a solid driver towards achieving improved sustainability, productivity and profitability.

Smartcane BMP (Best Management Practice): The establishment and rollout of the industry developed and industry-managed Smartcane BMP. CANEGROWERS Mackay was proud to partner with CANEGROWERS Queensland with the launch of this milestone development for the sugar industry right here in our own backyard. Having two prominent state government ministers - Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh, and Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell - visit Michael Deguara's cane farm for the launch of this program lends a significant amount of confidence in our industry and the structure of Smartcane BMP.

Korea FTA (Free Trade Agreement): In the past week the industry has had some positive news on the trade front with the Korean FTA being inclusive of sugar. This news has been long awaited in that in previous FTA's sugar was inevitably always to be the pawn in those negotiations. This announcement now sets the scene for other trade agreements with Japan and China and also the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is currently being negotiated. Community Bank AG Trade Life 2014: Our second annual Community Bank AG Trade Life agricultural exhibition looks set to eclipse the success of our inaugural event held in May this year. We are proud to announce the securing of a naming rights sponsor for the 2014 and 2015 events, being Sarina Community Bank Branch, Bendigo Bank, together with Rural Bank. Sites bookings are now open for this two-day event on May 23- 24, 2014. We thank all of our major sponsors who already have signed up to be a part of our second event showing their confidence not only in CANEGROWERS Mackay as event owners, but also confidence in the future of all of agriculture across the regions of Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday.

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Ravensdown Fertiliser for the Future: CANEGROWERS Mackay's committee that is dedicated to keeping Ravensdown operating on the east coast of Queensland proved a great success this year exceeding tonnage expectations in the Mackay and surrounding regions. RFA (Ravensdown Fertiliser Australia) brought fertiliser to cane growers at the best possible sustainable prices. Our focus in 2014 will be to expand our reach to increase the co-operatives shareholder base. Last week a delegation of CANEGROWERS Mackay members attended the Ravensdown AGM at Townsville along with about 350 other shareholders and guests from around the state.

This year has seen many industry changes that will bring strength to the backbone of the sugar industry going forward. Mackay Canegrowers Limited (trading as CANEGROWERS Mackay) is proud to be proactive and so well-supported by its member-base .

As a representative body we have certainly had a very significant impact on the direction and resolution of issues we have faced.

By finishing on that positive note I would like to wish all of our members, stakeholders and supporters a safe and joyous festive season with whatever you have planned.

We look forward to your support in 2014.


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