Wilmar blames new sugar marketing for lower profit

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

SINGAPORE-BASED agricultural marketing giant, Wilmar, has blamed the new sugar marketing program, for which it controversially fought growers, for a lower profit in the September quarter. Wilmar’s profit dropped 5.7 per cent, disappointing its second biggest shareholder, the US ag trader Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) which described the result as ‘lower than anticipated’. ADM is looking to reduce its exposure to sugar in Brazil, but has been quietly increasing its share of Wilmar (the biggest shareholders being the Kuok brothers) mainly for its oil seed crushing business, which is big in China. That sector of Wilmar increased profit by 2.3 per cent on revenue, which increased 16.8 per cent to $5.54 billion. That means reduced margins, an issue in all Wilmar divisions which is worrying investors — it is getting bigger through reduced margins. The Australian sugar business had a 13.05 per cent drop in profit to $75.2 million ‘due to timing effects from the new Australian pricing program. That’s the program that Wilmar fought for so hard, taking on growers and employing an army of lobbyists in Canberra and Brisbane. Wilmar also suffered in its biofuels projects in Indonesia based on its extensive palm oil plantations. Chairman and CEO …

Sugar trade door opens as Peru deal is sealed

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

SUGARCANE farmers’ organisation CANEGROWERS is congratulating the Federal Government and Australia’s negotiators on the successful outcome for the sugar industry in the Peru Australia Free Trade Agreement. Chairman Paul Schembri said Peru has agreed to market access for Australian raw sugar under terms it had never granted to any other country. “The inclusion of sugar in the deal with Peru sends a clear message that sensitive commodities, which have been excluded from some past Australian trade agreements, can and should be included,” Mr Schembri said. “Eighty per cent of the raw sugar produced from our cane is exported, so every market door that is opened is welcome as it increases the demand for Australian sugar.” The new access for Australian raw sugar to Peru is 30,000 tonnes per year from the first year of the agreement, increasing to 60,000 tonnes in year six and 90,000 tonnes in year 18. “While the initial amounts of raw sugar that Peru may purchase are small compared to our annual production of more than 4.5 million tonnes, the FTA will enable Australian exporters to establish and grow commercial relationships with refiners in Peru which has one of Latin America’s fastest growing economies,” he said. …


Steps to a sweet future — Canegrowers suggest to Government

Colin Jackson Sugar

CANEGROWERS is urging Queensland’s political parties to adopt a list of clear policy commitments to secure a prosperous future for cane farming businesses and the families and regional communities that rely on them. “Sugar is Queensland’s second largest agricultural export adding up to $3 billion to the economy each year,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said. “Tens of thousands of Queenslanders rely on the industry directly and indirectly for their livelihoods. “To be able to continue as a vibrant and valuable contributor to regional and local economies, our cane farming members need an environment in which their businesses can flourish. “Our industry’s new and competitive sugar marketing structures have to be maintained, electricity prices must come down and innovation and sustainability need to be supported. “We are urging our communities to watch the campaigning closely for those candidates and parties which can deliver on these crucial platforms,” Mr Schembri said. The key issues and actions for CANEGROWERS in the 2017 Queensland State Election are available on the website http://www.canegrowers.com.au/page/advocacy/queensland-state-election. Grow a competitive and prosperous sugarcane industry Maintain legislation that supports grower choice and competition in sugar marketing services. Reinstate and maintain Queensland Government funding to Sugar Research Australia, in real terms, to …

Sugarcane growers have more time to apply for Cyclone Debbie aid

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS welcomes the news that the closing date for applications for Cyclone Debbie recovery assistance has been extended. Farmers impacted by Cyclone Debbie in March 2017 now have until January 12, 2018, to apply for clean-up and recovery grants under the Category C of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. “We acknowledge and thank the Queensland and Federal Governments for listening to our concerns and, along with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, for recognising the need for an extension,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “It had become very clear that October 13 was too soon for everyone to assess and repair the damage to their farms and then apply for the assistance they desperately need. “We had feared that growers with legitimate claims would miss out, especially as harvesting operations are uncovering more paddock damage and the long waiting times being experienced for equipment and materials. “It will be a relief to many of our members to know that they now have more time to get their farms back to their pre-cyclone state,” he said. CANEGROWERS members are urged to work with their local industry representatives and apply for the Category C assistance through QRIDA. Deadline may cut growers out …


Sugar Industry Code of Conduct — Leyonhjelm invited to meet growers

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS urges Senators of all parties to speak-up and reaffirm their support for protections for family farmers and maintain the stability of a $2.5 billion export industry. The Sugar Industry Code of Conduct, launched in April this year, is in danger of being disallowed unless a motion introduced by NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm is withdrawn or voted down. “We know there is wide support for the Code in Parliament,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said. “It is a vital safety net for our sugarcane farming members and must not be stripped away. “The Labor Party, Liberals, Nationals and Greens have already acknowledged the need for a Code through their roles in a Senate Committee investigation into arrangements for the marketing of Australian sugar. “It was the sole recommendation in 2015 of the Rural and Regional Affairs Committee, chaired by WA ALP Senator Glenn Sterle, that a Code be developed and implemented for the sugar industry. “We need all parties to reinforce their support and defeat Senator Leyonhjelm’s misinformed attempt to confuse the issue and put misguided ideology ahead of what is needed in the real world,” Mr Schembri said. Distance and the perishable nature of cut cane means that growers have …

High-tech biosecurity hub to protect the north

Colin Jackson Current News, Dairy, Enviro-Safe, Farm-Safe, Horticulture, Livestock, Sugar

A NEW biosecurity hub to guard against foreign pests and diseases will be built in Darwin as part of an $8 million joint project by the Australian and Northern Territory Governments. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the Australian Government was delivering $3.5 million to create a cutting-edge biosecurity hub at the NT Government’s Berrimah Farm facility in Darwin, plus $500,000 to fight bluetongue virus. “The new biosecurity hub will be more than ten times the size of the current facility, and will house the latest technology in molecular diagnostics, a technique to diagnose and monitor disease and detect risk,” Minister Joyce. “This significant investment in biosecurity in the north, under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, will support faster testing of potential biosecurity threats as they emerge. This includes quickly separating local, sometimes beneficial, insects from exotic fruit flies that could devastate our horticulture exports. “It also means a more effective early warning system for destructive threats, such as new banana diseases. And it means expert rapid diagnosis of exotic diseases that could cripple Australian agriculture.” Northern Territory Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, Ken Vowles, said the improvements made possible through this joint investment, …

Labor and LDP plan to burn cane growers — Senator Hanson

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

SENATOR PAULINE Hanson has demanded that Labor confirm if it plans to torpedo safeguards put in place to protect the Australian sugar cane industry. Senator Hanson explained Labor was planning to vote with the Liberal Democrats and remove a code of conduct that regulates the conduct of sugar cane growers, mill owners and marketers. “This is typical of the Labor Party. They have refused to step in and assist the cane farmers and their communities. They are nothing but talk when it comes to protecting Australian industry and business,” Senator Hanson said. “One Nation fought alone for this code of conduct, and now Labor is set to destroy the sugar cane industry because they would rather do the bidding of Wilmar’s lobbyists than listen to the needs of our cane growers.” “Have Wilmar’s donations to Queensland Labor silenced Annastacia Palaszczuk and allowed her colleagues to attack Queensland farmers.” One Nation was a key player in ensuring the code of conduct was brought in to assist Australian sugar cane farmers in their ongoing dispute with Wilmar Mills, a Singaporean-owned multi-national. “This is grossly irresponsible of Labor. They need to clear this up and end the uncertainty they continue to inflict on …

Despite some stormy periods, some relief is at hand.

Deadline may cut growers out of Cyclone Debbie aid

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS is calling on the Queensland and Federal Governments to extend the deadline for farmers impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie to apply for disaster assistance fearing many with damaged and ruined paddocks and buildings will miss out. “Farmers are eligible for a raft of measures including grants under the Category C package of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “But the work must be completed before the October 13 deadline so they can claim the assistance. “There are a lot of factors that make an extension necessary. Many growers still need to access advice to make the best use of what is available.” CANEGROWERS expects that a Category D package, already agreed to by the State and Federal Governments, will include money for recovery officers to provide technical advice to farmers. “Although the package was announced a month ago, no money has been released, meaning that the assistance growers need is not available and they are holding off making their Category C applications,” Mr Galligan said. “Existing advisory services are stretched. Bolstering those with resources from the Category D $2.1 million economic package would enable informed recovery to proceed.” With the harvest in full …

QSL grower reps members announced — further voting in Burdekin

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Sugar

THE RESULTS of the 2017 Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) Grower Representative Member elections have been declared, with a tie in the Burdekin Region election necessitating a second round of voting to decide the final available position in that region. While most milling regions had the same number of candidates as available positions, votes were required in the Northern (South Johnstone Mill), Southern (Bingera and Millaquin mills) and Burdekin (Invicta, Pioneer, Kalamia and Inkerman mills) regions. In the Burdekin Region, Mark Vass, Owen Menkens and Russell Jordan secured three of the four available positions, with Roger Piva and Denis Pozzebon tying for the fourth position. As a result, a second round of voting will now be held in the Burdekin Region to obtain a definitive result for this fourth position only. This second round of voting will be conducted for all candidates who were not successful in the initial Burdekin Region vote, these being Shane McNee, Frank Mugica, Julie Artiach, Denis Pozzebon and Roger Piva (Sibby Torrisi has withdrawn his nomination). New ballot forms for this vote are now available by clicking here, as well as from QSL’s Ayr office, Burdekin collectives and mill offices. Voting will close at 5pm (Queensland …

Cane Changer commitment (2)
Environment Minister Steven Miles signs a Cane Changer commitment watched by (L-R) John Pickering, of Behaviour Innovation, CANEGROWERS Innisfail Chairman, Joe Marano, CANEGROWERS Chairman, Paul Schembri and CANEGROWERS CEO, Dan Galligan.

Minister recognises decades of sugar grower commitment

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS has today welcomed the Queensland Environment Minister’s signed commitment to the sugarcane industry which recognises decades of grower investment in environmental outcomes. Steven Miles today signed a Cane Changer commitment in front of representatives of all of Queensland’s sugarcane growing regions. He has committed to: Acknowledging the ongoing efforts of Queensland cane growers for improving their farming practices, especially as they relate to the health of the Great Barrier Reef; Recognising the important role that cane growers play for the State of Queensland; and Working collaboratively with the sugar industry for a better future for the industry and the environment. “This is very significant to the cane industry on many levels,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said after the meeting. “We are pleased to have the Queensland Government, represented by Mr Miles, commit to our industry as our growers have committed their time, money and creativity to environmental outcomes. “The Cane Changer project, backed by the Queensland Government and being delivered by Behaviour Innovation in the Wet Tropics region, is unique in Australian agriculture. “It is a platform for recognising all of the work being done on cane farms to protect the Great Barrier Reef and what they are planning …

LNP commits to form Agriculture Energy and Water Council — welcomed by industry

Colin Jackson Current News, Horticulture, Sugar

THE LIBERAL NATIONAL Party (LNP) has announced that it is re-establishing an Agriculture Energy and Water Council to improve collaboration between industry, government and government-owned corporations (GOCs) in considering energy-related issues that impact agriculture. The Council will consist of representatives from the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF), QFF industry member CANEGROWERS, AgForce and relevant LNP shadow ministers; and Energy Queensland if the LNP is elected. QFF President Stuart Armitage (pictured) welcomed the LNP’s announcement and commended it for willingness to work alongside industry to address unsustainable and unjustifiable electricity prices. “QFF and industry members have been very vocal on the need for government to address spiraling electricity prices and have been providing considered options that could improve the situation.” “We have also been strongly advocating for the need to properly consider the synergy to water efficiency – the energy/water nexus. This forum has the potential to address both these issues.” “It is a good initiative and we look forward to being involved, but the Council must deliver real outcomes in the form of lower electricity costs for all regional businesses. The worst outcome would be for this to become yet another talkfest that provides no relief for Queensland farmers.” The purpose of …

Growers needed for EEF60 on farm fertiliser trials

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS and Sugar Research Australia (SRA) are encouraging Queensland sugarcane farmers to take part in a series of 60 on-farm trials of enhanced efficiency fertilisers. Dubbed EEF60, the project will run over three harvest seasons in a bid to identify the conditions under which enhanced efficiency fertilisers can increase grower profitability while reducing any fertiliser losses to the environment, particularly into waterways running to the Great Barrier Reef. “This is a big ask and a big project — one of the biggest co-ordinated and independent trials of fertilisers ever undertaken in the sugar industry,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “We will be working with SRA to scientifically evaluate these enhanced efficiency fertilisers which various manufacturers have developed. “They have the potential to release nutrients more slowly than conventional fertilisers or stabilise them into a form that is less likely to flow to waterways, so the technology is exciting. “However, they also come at a cost, so our growers need to verify that they won’t be compromising their businesses by making a switch.” EEF60 trial sites, selected for a variety of soil and climatic conditions, will host controlled and replicated field trials. “The project will run 30 trial sites in the …


Colour your week of Ekka with agricultural naturals

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Coming Events, Cotton, Dairy, Horticulture, Livestock, Sugar

QUEENSLAND-GROWN wool and cotton, highlighted with leather, bamboo and silk, will be the agricultural centrepiece of the Natural Fibre Fashion Parade carrying the theme ‘Back to Nature’ as part of the 140th Royal Brisbane Show from August 11 to 20. Directed by Laura Churchill, the runway will feature 27 established, emerging and regional designers for one fabulous display of style. And in the newly-named Agricultural Education Hall, there will be more educational activities for children than ever before, including the new Field to Fork interactive rural journey where kids will discover how their food gets from the field to their fork. In order of the agricultural cycle — composting, soil analysis, growing and planting, harvesting and processing — they’ll take part in activities such as grinding grains into flour and then using the flour to bake healthy muffins. This year’s annual event — the only major state event to lay claim to such longevity — is celebrating this milestone by introducing for the first time, half-price entry and an expanded fireworks spectacular of two displays each evening. Queensland’s largest annual event has a remarkable history, being staged every year except for just two — in 1919 due to the Spanish …

Cane tram lines_9680

QSL top marketer of Queensland sugar — the road to the future

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

QUEENSLAND SUGAR Limited (QSL) has retained its status as Australia’s largest marketer of raw sugar following the implementation of new Marketing Choice arrangements for Queensland cane growers. QSL Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Beashel, said that more than 1,000 Wilmar growers had allocated nearly one million tonnes to the industry-owned not-for-profit company for the current season. Mr Beashel said the forecast tonnage in the 2017 season from Wilmar growers, and that already contracted from the Bundaberg Sugar, Isis Central Mill, Mackay Sugar, MSF Sugar and Tully Sugar milling districts, brought QSL’s total tonnage to around 1.9 million tonnes for 2017. “We’ve been very heartened by the strong support we’ve received from Wilmar growers following the long-awaited implementation of Marketing Choice around six weeks ago,” he said. “They fought long and hard to be able to choose their marketer, and so we are very keen to repay the faith that they have put in us.” Mr Beashel said growers who had chosen QSL would not only benefit from an experienced, Queensland-based team working hard on their behalf, but also the risk mitigation and marketing flexibility that comes from QSL having a contracted supply in every major raw sugar export …

Queensland bio grant could lead to year-round sugar mill production

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Sugar

QUEENSLAND’S EMERGING bio-futures industry has been given a boost following the announcement that North Queensland-based MP Australia Holdings has received $250,000 in State Government Funding to demonstrate bioethanol production from agave at the pilot scale. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said MP Holdings, trading as MSF Sugar, was one of six projects that would help put Queensland at the forefront of the global bioindustrial revolution. Ms Palaszczuk, who this week attended the international BIO 2017 conference in San Diego, said the project sought to establish the feasibility of an integrated sugarcane and agave bioindustrial project at the Tableland Sugar Mill using agave already being grown at Arriga in Far North Queensland. The project would also seek to compare growth rates of agave grown in Maryborough and Arriga with Mexico. “Importantly, this will use marginal cane land and aim to give sugarcane factories the opportunity to have year-round production, producing bioethanol in the sugarcane off-season,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “This means seasonal jobs could now become year-long jobs.” Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said the project was funded out of the Advance Queensland $5 million Biofutures Commercialisation Program. Ms Enoch said the BCP, part of the Advance Queensland Biofutures …

Bio-refinery planned for regional Queensland

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Sugar

SAN DIEGO, USA: A drive to attract bio-refinery investors to Queensland is paying off, with the Queensland Government announcing plans today for a bio-refinery by US Biotechnology company, Amyris. In San Diego for the BIO2017 International Convention, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the planned bio-refinery could create upwards of 70 jobs and further boost Queensland’s reputation globally as a leading biofutures location. “Amyris is seeking to replicate its successful bio-refinery in Brazil and sees Queensland as an ideal location due to the abundance of sugarcane and close proximity to Asia,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “The company’s proposed bio-refinery would aim to produce 23,000 tonnes a year of a sugar cane-based ingredient called farnesene which is used in a range products including cosmetics, fragrances, nutraceuticals, polymers, and lubricants.” Amyris President & CEO John Melo said he was very pleased with the commitment of the Queensland Government to be leaders of the Bioeconomy. “Our growing demand in China for Vitamins and the Asian demand for cosmetics and fragrances supports a new specialty farnesene fermentation factory in Queensland,” Mr Melo said. “The funding from the Queensland Government along with the operating expertise and sugar cane base of our local partner makes this factory possible and …

Properpine Mill modified

Sugar dispute resolved — but why was it necessary in the first place?

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

INTRANSIGENCE led to the sugar dispute between manufacturer Wilmar International and marketer Queensland Sugar Limited. The meat-in-the sandwich, so to speak, were the sugarcane growers in the Burdekin, Herbert River and Proserpine districts. When the Newman LNP government controlled Queensland, it drafted re-regulation of the industry that safeguarded the rights of the sugar grower to a choice of marketer. Alternatively, when the Palaszczuk Labor government stumbled into power, it chose to side with Wilmar in a move that denied local sugar growers the right to choose their marketing agent, yet gave Wilmar an inside run to become sole marketer of the sugar is manufactured. The Palaszczuk government obviously saw a chance to score political points, and Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne continually lambasted “the LNP’s ill-considered and poorly drafted re-regulation of the industry,” To give credit where it is due, the decision by the Palaszczuk Government to approach Appeals Court Judge Richard Chesterman to mediate can be considered the straw that broke the camel’s back’ of the dispute. But that doesn’t extend to being the ‘master stroke’. The important question is: Why did it have to happen at all? And would all the grower stress have been averted if the Newman …

Wilmar backs-down to QSL over relative CCS

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

• Payments remain as in the past THIS AFTERNOON, QSL’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Beashel, issued the following statement: “After our objections to Wilmar’s proposal to deliver GEI sugar tonnage to QSL calculated on actual CCS rather than relative CCS — which would result in lower QSL payments — we have negotiated a resolution,” Greg Beashel has advised relieved sugarcane growers. The resolution enables advance payments for Wilmar growers to proceed without change from previous years. QSL and Wilmars’ legal teams have indicated they will work over the week-end to draw-up the appropriate changes. Greg Beashel said that while QSL has been “very frustrated by the slow pace of negotiations,” he was cautiously optimistic that QSL would sign a supply contract with QSL next week. That will allow growers supplying Wilmar mills to have the choice of Queensland Sugar Limited as their marketing agent. STATEMENT from the Executive General Manager, North Queensland, for Wilmar Sugar, John Pratt, issued this afternoont: I am pleased to advise that we have cleared the last obstacle to finalisation of a GEI Sugar Sales Agreement (GEISSA) with QSL, and we expect to execute the agreement next week. With the assistance of former …

Sugar war re-escalates: Wilmar takes the intransigent road

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

OLD MATE Kuok Khoon Hong, the 67-year-old Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wilmar International, continues to play ‘ducks and drakes’ with sugar growers of the Burdekin and Proserpine districts — and if he’s looking for a fight, he’s about to be accommodated. Tuesday, June 6 is earmarked for Burdekin Sugar Mills — Inkerman, Pioneer, Kalamia and Invicta — to start crushing if they want to finish before Christmas, yet while contracts to supply sugar to these mills are completed and ready to go, the growers still have no choice of marketer. Proserpine Mill, with a lower volume, can wait until early July; its proposed starting date is around mid-month. It appears the Singaporean billionaire businessman (pictured) is hell bent of achieving his aim of being sole marketer, even though the law states that growers must be given choice. The chairman of Canegrowers Burdekin, and Home Hill grower, Phillip Marano, reiterated today that growers must be given choice of marketer — Queensland Sugar Limited or Wilmar. “The operational side of the cane supply agreements to the mills is complete,” he said. “All contracts are negotiated except the marketing agreement. “Wilmar is putting-up all roadblocks against conceding marketing arrangements to QSL. “Yet …

Marketing Choice — changing the goal posts

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

By Greg Beashel, Managing Director and CEO, Queensland Sugar Limited During our recent On-Supply Agreement (OSA) negotiations with Wilmar, it has emerged that Wilmar is seeking to redefine Growers’ Economic Interest in sugar (GEI Sugar) and, as a result, deliver less tonnes of sugar to QSL at the start of the season. Under their proposal, Wilmar is seeking to deliver GEI Sugar tonnage to QSL calculated on Actual CCS rather than Relative CCS, and change the way cane payments are calculated — a major departure from standard industry arrangements, including all of Wilmar’s previous Cane Supply Agreements (CSAs) and the way we understand all other milling companies pay growers. Such a change would result in lower Advances payments to Wilmar Growers choosing QSL and less sugar for QSL to market during the early months of the harvest. We strongly refute Wilmar’s claim that this position was consistently in documents provided since October 2016. It has never been the subject of any of the negotiations between QSL and Wilmar prior to Wilmar providing a first draft of the OSA following the mediation. We also believe Growers have an expectation that Wilmar would extend long-standing industry arrangements regarding Relative CCS to the …

QSL begins roll-out of Grower Pricing Agreement

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

QUEENSLAND SUGAR LIMITED’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Beashel, issued the following statement last Friday (May 5): I AM PLEASED to advise that QSL has begun the roll-out of its Grower Pricing Agreement (GPA) for Wilmar Growers, issuing the first contracts to Growers who have completed our Pre-Registration Form. This is an important milestone for the implementation of QSL Marketing Choice for Wilmar Growers. The GPA is a contract between QSL and a Wilmar Grower which details the conditions under which that Grower will allocate Grower’s Economic Interest in sugar (GEI Sugar) to QSL in order to access QSL’s marketing and pricing services. Wilmar Growers who submitted a QSL Direct Pre-Registration Form will receive their GPA from QSL via email over coming days. A member of the QSL Grower Services Team will subsequently be in touch to help these Growers complete the agreement and discuss the key steps moving forward. Wilmar Growers who are not pre-registered can still arrange to receive a GPA by completing the Pre-Registration Form available in the Wilmar Growers section of the QSL website (www.qsl.com.au) or by contacting their local QSL Grower Services Team representative via the details listed at the end of this …

HAVE YOUR SAY: Lending practices as they pertain to primary production

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Cotton, Current News, Dairy, Horticulture, Livestock, Produce, Sugar

A SENATE SELECT Committee on Lending to Primary Production Customers was established on February 16 to inquire and report on the regulation and practices of financial institutions in relation to primary production industries, including agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Committee Membership consists of: Chair: Senator Malcolm Roberts, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Deputy Chair: Senator John Williams, The Nationals, NSW Member: Senator Chris Back, Liberal Party of Australia, WA Member: Senator Anthony Chisholm, Australian Labor Party, Qld Member: Senator Jane Hume, Liberal Party of Australia, Vic Member: Senator Claire Moore, Australian Labor Party, Qld Terms of Reference will have particular reference to: The lending, and foreclosure and default practices, including constructive and non-monetary default processes; The roles of other service providers to, and agents of, financial institutions, including valuers and insolvency practitioners, and the impact of these services; The appropriateness of internal complaints handling and dispute management procedures within financial institutions; and The appropriateness of loan contract terms particular to the primary production industries, including loan-to-value ratios and provision of reasonable written notice. The committee has also resolved that: In conducting the inquiry, the committee will not investigate, or seek to resolve or adjudicate disputes between customers, banks or other parties; and …

Farmers need to be cautious over Burdekin hydro

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Sugar

THE POLITICAL WAR over coal-versus-hydro electric power for North Queensland could have farmers as the unintended casualty. Aside from paying the world’s highest price for electricity and water, Burdekin farmers could find a hydro scheme leaves their water supply less reliable. The federal government (and Queensland opposition) want a coal-fired power station (largely privately funded, with some government ‘kick start’ money). They say that is the only way to ensure better base load electricity for unreliable North Queensland power. But, last week-end, Premier Anna Palaszczuk said her government would fund a study of hydro power if the Burdekin Falls Dam was extended. And that would be backed-up by more solar, wind and gas-fired power stations. Then federal opposition leader Bill Shorten promised $200 million for the Burdekin hydro. Given various companies have not been able to justify a gas power station at Collinsville or Townsville before the recent doubling of Australian gas prices, that might depend more on sun and hydro. Aside from the minuscule Tinaroo hydro plant west of Cairns, the main hydro in Queensland is on Wivenhoe Dam west of Brisbane. Cheap coal-fired electricity is used to pump water from Wivenhoe to a higher storage dam. That water …

Trump signals Mexico sugar war — casualties expected

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

SUGAR is the next casualty of President Trump’s ‘push them to the edge’ negotiating tactic with his neighbours, Mexico and Canada. Trump and his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, threatened to kill the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over cheap cars and sugar from Mexico and timber and dairy from Canada. But the abolition has been stayed pending further negotiations on individual items (including building a wall to stop the illegal Mexican immigrants who underpin the US Agriculture (such as cheap chickens and vegetables). Subsidised Canadian dairy products are undercutting subsidised US dairy, with both governments being rorted, as the latest investigation shows, by big dairy processors and supermarkets which don’t want their profit margins sacrificed, so are threatening to squeeze farmers. Now, the same is being threatened in the sugar market, with June 5 the deadline Trump has set for Mexico, the biggest sugar exporter to the USA. US growers get a base price, which is about 30 per cent more than the current world price, which both Australia and Mexico accept. Australia is given a small share, about five per cent of its exports at this elevated subsidised price, under a special agreement with the USA. It was …

Cyclone-hit growers welcome recovery assistance

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS has welcomed the announcement of Category C disaster recovery assistance for Queensland farmers impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie. “This makes $25,000 in clean-up and recovery grants available to our members facing the huge job of sorting out the damage left by strong winds and flooding across their properties,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “I want to thank everyone in the industry who worked to assess and report on the damage in the aftermath of the cyclone and the state and federal agencies which have processed and approved this vital assistance. “These grants are not compensation for crop losses — they are an important hand-up to get these businesses back on their feet and contributing to the Queensland economy as quickly as possible.” Work underway on cane farms through the Proserpine, Mackay, Plane Creek and other areas down to the Gold Coast includes rehabilitating paddocks with washouts. “Some paddocks have serious erosion,” Mr Galligan said. “And in many cases, crossings need to be rebuilt and there is debris such as huge tree limbs and gravel embedded in the cane.” The grants can also be used to repair damaged infrastructure such as fencing and repair and recondition essential plant and equipment. …

Mexican stand-off continues: QSL’s latest formal OSA response to Wilmar

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

QUEENSLAND SUGAR LIMITED’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Beashel, issued the following statement today: Dear Grower — Yesterday afternoon, QSL issued Wilmar with our formal response to the On-Supply Agreement (OSA) documentation provided to us to date. While the agreement is well advanced, there are a number of material issues which QSL has proposed changes to resolve, and we are keen to progress these with Wilmar as soon as possible. Similarly, we will review the outstanding Commingling Agreement, an important document which is referenced within the OSA, as soon as it is received from Wilmar. Like you, we are acutely aware that it is now nearly five weeks since we reached high-level agreement on the OSA through mediation, and so getting this contract finalised with Wilmar remains our top priority. In the interim, we ask that Wilmar Growers considering using QSL for marketing and pricing services return their pre-registration paperwork so we can streamline your access to QSL Marketing Choice once the OSA is finalised. You can find this form on our website: www.qsl.com.au. In other Marketing Choice news, we have also been advised that the Federal Government’s new Sugar Industry Code of Conduct has been released and …

Sugar growers relieved at Code of Conduct commitment

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS has welcomed the announcement that a Code of Conduct will be put in place for the sugar industry to prevent a repeat of the long-running marketing dispute that has left 1500 growers in limbo for the 2017 season. “This move future-proofs our members and the industry from ever again having to go through the protracted dispute and negotiations we’ve been caught up in for the past three years,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “While Queensland legislation has secured the right of growers to choose a marketer for their economic interest sugar, we look forward to this Federal Government-sponsored Code as announced by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce as being the fall-back mechanism in situations where commercial agreements which respect that right can’t be reached.” CANEGROWERS will work with the Federal Government to ensure that agreements already in place are respected with the introduction of the Code. “We have QSL and Wilmar Sugar very close to a crucial On-Supply Agreement that will enable growers who supply that company’s mills to sign Cane Supply Agreements which guarantee  choice in sugar marketing,” Mr Galligan said. “That process should now be completed as soon as possible. “It is distressing for our members that …

Despite some stormy periods, some relief is at hand.
Despite some stormy periods, marketing certainty is at hand.

Sugar code of conduct gives cane growers marketing certainty

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

A SUGAR INDUSTRY Code of Conduct — described as ‘minimalist’ by Scott Morrison — will be introduced into Federal Parliament as early as next week following a long-running dispute between sugar marketer QSL and mill owner and sugar manufacturer, Wilmar. The decision was announced last night by Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, and Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce — and heartily welcomed by Nationals backbencher George Christensen, who has previously threatened to quit the Coalition. In the wake of the devastation of sugar crops, especially in the Proserpine and Mackey regions, Mr Christensen says “a code of conduct is fantastic for cane growers mopping up from Cyclone Debbie.” He added: “More importantly, it’s that all growers in North Queensland, including those affected by the cyclone, are content with it. “They’ve all been very welcoming of that last night,” he told ABC radio last night (Thursday), after flying back into his electorate of Dawson. “It’s high time we have that — it’s fantastic news as far as I’m concerned.” Treasurer Morrison announced the code will be introduced by regulation next week and will come into force the day after. He said it would ensure grower choice in marketing, and that all parties …

Thanks for your support

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

THE PALASZCZUK Government — you know, the mob that governs Queensland without having very much business experience or acumen — has backed sugar manufacturer Wilmar International against the wishes of the canegrowers in the Burdekin and Proserpine districts in their push to have their sugar marketed by Queensland Sugar Limited rather than a single desk controlled by — you guessed it — Wilmar Sugar. In fact, the Labor Government could be said to have gone out of its way to assist Malaysian billionaire Mr Kuok achieve his perceived aims to control the market. Well, the cat’s out of the bag today with reports via the Australian Electoral Commission register that “Wilmar has banked $11,000 into the accounts of the Australian Labor Party.” With previous (conservative) governments, such blatant palm greasing would be attacked as “payment for services rendered” — especially by the unbiased national broadcaster that sponges off the taxpayer. Surely that doesn’t happen in an Australian democracy. After all, Australia isn’t a Third World nation.

Frustration and alarm gets a fructose coating

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

IN RESPONSE to Queensland Sugar Limited’s most recent release, the Executive General Manager, North Queensland, for Wilmar International, John Pratt, has issued the following statement. Agalert opinion is that Wilmar is dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s — with exceptional dexterity. Dear Grower — You may have received a message from QSL in the past 24 hours expressing frustration and disappointment that Wilmar has not yet provided QSL with a draft of the formal GEI Sugar Sales Agreement (GEISSA) that will reflect the agreement in-principle reached earlier this month. You will recall that on March 6 I wrote to inform you of the remaining key points on which we had reached agreement and that we estimated it would take 4-6 weeks to finalise what is a very complex and fundamentally important commercial agreement. Given we are just two and a half weeks into our forecast schedule, I am surprised that anyone would be expressing frustration or alarm. The draft GEISSA will go from Wilmar to QSL’s lawyers as soon as it is ready. It is a complex agreement that is already approximately 100 pages long. We need to be certain that the provisions in this agreement are deliverable and that …

QSL finding frustration at delay in receiving first draft

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

QSL Managing Director and CEO, Greg Beashel, has this afternoon issued the following Marketing Update: Dear Grower — It will probably come as no surprise to Wilmar Growers that it is now almost three weeks since mediation and QSL is yet to receive the first draft of the On-Supply Agreement (OSA) from Wilmar. In fact their lawyers have indicated to us today that they now expect to deliver the draft contract by COB next Monday, 27 March. Like the many Wilmar Growers keen to access QSL Marketing Choice, we find this extremely frustrating and disappointing, and we continue to press Wilmar to get the necessary paperwork to us as soon as possible. While the final OSA is required before we can finalise some of our Marketing Choice
documentation and systems, we remain well placed to deliver QSL Marketing Choice to Wilmar Growers once the contract paperwork is completed. Here’s an overview of our preparations as we enter the final stretch: We’ve established new Grower Information Systems: Unlike your miller, QSL hasn’t previously had a direct contractual relationship with growers and so is not privy to important grower information, such as contact details, farm production stats and business entity information. The QSL …

LNP calls on Federal Government to deliver sugar industry code of conduct

Colin Jackson Sugar

DELEGATES TO the State Council meeting of the LNP have called on the Federal Government to urgently implement a sugar industry Code of Conduct. The urgency resolution — moved by Shadow Northern Development Minister, Andrew Cripps, and seconded by Shadow Agriculture Minister, Dale Last — was supported at the LNP State Council meeting in Cairns on Sunday, March 19. Mr Cripps said the LNP was calling on the Federal Government to take action after the Palaszczuk Labor Government and crossbench MPs in Queensland rejected efforts by the Opposition to deliver a resolution to the current sugar industry dispute. “The LNP has delivered grower choice in marketing and formally recognised grower economic interest, but our efforts to provide a dispute resolution process have not been successful,” Mr Cripps said. “It’s time for the Federal Government to pull its weight and deliver a Code of Conduct. “With less than three months before the start of the 2017 cane harvesting season, it is totally unacceptable for Wilmar and growers supplying their mills between Ingham and Sarina not to have a cane supply agreement in place — this dispute must be resolved.” Mr Cripps said more than 18 months after the Senate Committee handed …

Aerial bid to control rats in sugarcane

Colin Jackson Sugar

CANEGROWERS has secured a minor use permit from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) for the aerial baiting of rats in response to a population boom in two key cane-growing areas that looks set to cost the industry millions of dollars. Areas of sugarcane which had lodged (fallen over) in the Mackay and Herbert River districts, coupled with weed-growth promoted by unseasonal winter rain, created the perfect conditions for two species of native rat to thrive during 2016. “While growers can bait for these rats in sugarcane, the conditions meant they couldn’t get into their paddocks to place baits by hand, leaving the rats to cause significant damage,” CANEGROWERS Environment and Sustainability Manager Matt Kealley said. “Rats gnaw the cane stalks off at the base, the cane then deteriorates and the sugar content is compromised. In 2016 the cost of rat damage in these two districts was more than $6 million. “With around 500,000 tonnes of big stand-over cane left behind after rain stopped the harvest, the rats are still having a feast and that’s going to impact on the 2017 season.” CANEGROWERS worked closely with Animal Control Technologies (manufacturer of the approved bait Rattoff®), chemical registration consultancy …

Marie Finn holds a drawing of John Drysdale, which will form the basis of the central panel of five to be installed in front the Home Hill Lions Diorama near the Burdekin Bridge.

Extraordinary accolade for sugar industry pioneer

Colin Jackson Bush Chat, Current News, Sugar

AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN whose vision led to the establishment of Inkerman Sugar Mill on the southern bank of the Burdekin River, and ultimately the sugar industry and the town of Home Hill, will be honoured with a memorial within the shadow of the mill now owned by an international conglomerate. According to local history researcher and former secretary of the Home Hill Chamber of Commerce, Marie Finn, John Drysdale could correctly be called the Father of the Home Hill district: “This is an occasion to be celebrated by the whole shire,” she wrote. In the book, “John Drysdale and the Burdekin,” by local author Roy Connolly, the Rt Hon Sir Arthur William Fadden wrote in the Foreword: “John Drysdale was an extraordinary personality, a real pioneer, bold, creative, enterprising, honest and far sighted. His, more than any other, influence brought stability and success to hundreds of Burdekin farmers.” Sir Arthur William Fadden, GCMG (April 13, 1894 to April 21, 1973) was born in Mackay, entered politics and become the 13th Prime Minister of Australia in 1941, following the resignation of Robert Menzies. He was the first Australian Prime Minister born in Queensland. In the March edition of “Home Hill News,” …

Confidence amid challenges as Policy Council meets in Mackay

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri has told the organisation’s Policy Council there are many reasons for sugarcane growers to be confident about the future. Mr Schembri has opened a meeting of the Council in Mackay, with representatives of every cane growing region in Queensland attending. “This is an industry that is growing,” Mr Schembri said. “We are in our ninth consecutive year of production growth, prices on the world market are strong and our industry is a $2.5 billion dollar contributor to the Australian economy. “Importantly for CANEGROWERS, we have seen headway in the marketing dispute that has been running for 1080 days in our industry, with many sleepless nights for growers in between,” Mr Schembri said. Last week Wilmar and QSL announced they had high-level agreement towards a crucial contract that will pave the way for Cane Supply Agreements incorporating marketing choice for farmers in Wilmar milling areas. “I want to pay tribute to all of you,” Mr Schembri told the Policy Council members. “Your determination has been unyielding and it should not weaken while the legal panel beating moves the agreement into contractual words. “If we had not taken up the fight we would have been where our forebears …

QSL details key elements towards dispute agreement

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

MANAGING DIRECTOR and CEO of Queensland Sugar Limited, Greg Beashel (pictured), issued the following statement yesterday (March 7): Dear Grower — Following our mediation session with Wilmar last week and the subsequent agreement on high-level terms for their On-Supply Agreement (OSA), there has been plenty of interest in just what this agreement contains. Due to requirements associated with the mediation process, QSL is limited in what we can share with growers at this time. However, the key elements of the agreement include: TERM: 12 years minimum with a five-year notice period. If notice is given there will be two years to reach a new agreement before forward pricing is impacted TITLE: QSL will take title to sugar at the sugar terminal (Free In Store) SUGAR QUALITY: Minimum polarisation of 98.7 degrees and a regime to give QSL access to other brands of sugar on a pro rata basis PRICING AND PAYMENT: QSL will pay growers and take pricing orders directly from growers MILL NEGLIGENCE: If Wilmar is negligent in milling cane they will indemnify QSL for up to $77million of costs arising from closing out QSL pricing positions due to not delivering committed sugar PRICE TO WILMAR SET OFF: There …

Despite legal decisions, work continues to conclude agreements

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

THE EXECUTIVE General Manager – North Queensland – Wilmar Sugar, John Pratt, issued the following comments yesterday (7 March, 2017): Dear Grower — I am aware there has been media coverage and discussion among growers about two recent legal decisions relating to our industry, and so I thought it helpful to give you some background and context. At the same time, I want to reassure you that we continue to work on concluding both a GEI Sugar Sales Agreement (GEISSA) with QSL, and cane supply agreements (CSAs) with all our 1,500 growers as soon as possible. Application of the law is at the heart of both recent legal decisions — one by three judges of the Federal Court, the other by a former Queensland Appeals Court judge sitting as arbitrator on a CSA negotiation. Although Wilmar was involved in both matters and is affected by the outcomes, the decisions were about the appropriate and fair application of the law. Federal Court Decision: Last Tuesday (1 March), three judges of the Federal Court ruled unanimously that changes to the QSL constitution between 2014 and 2016 that removed Wilmar’s voting rights were ‘oppressive, unfairly prejudicial and unfairly discriminatory’. As a result of last …

Strong demand will keep sugar prices rising

Colin Jackson Sugar

STRONG DEMAND will support world sugar prices — according to ABARES in its March 2017 edition of Agricultural Commodities — lifting its forecast for futures values, even amid growing concern over the threat posed to Western consumption from health concerns. ABARES, the official Australian commodities bureau, raised by one cent to 21 cents a pound its forecast for average sugar prices, as measured by New York’s spot futures contract, in 2016-17 on an October-to-September basis. It also foresaw prices rising further next season, to average 22.0 cents a pound, before easing back to 20.8 cents a pound in 2018-19. The forecasts imply prices well above those being factored in by investors, with spot New York raw sugar futures at 19.54 cents a pound, and contracts for 2017-18 averaging about 19.0 cents a pound. The report was released today at ABARES Outlook 2017 — Australia’s leading forum for public and private decision-makers in agriculture — marking its 47th annual conference with expert analysis of innovation in agriculture.  

Wilmar and QSL committed to concluding a GEISSA asap — John Pratt

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

JOHN PRATT, Executive General Manager – North Queensland – Wilmar Sugar, has issued the following advice today (March 6, 2017): Dear Grower — Further to my update last Thursday, March 2, advising of our agreement-in-principle with QSL on the remaining issues standing in the way of a GEI Sugar Sales Agreement (GEISSA), I am now able to give you an overview of the key terms of the agreement. The GEISSA will have a minimum initial term of 12 years, with a five year notice period for termination. Wilmar will sell raw sugar to QSL Free in Store (FIS) with title transferring on payment of the Wilmar invoice. Wilmar will supply raw sugar to QSL at a minimum polarisation of 98.7 degrees. QSL will purchase raw sugar from Wilmar at the prompt ICE#11 price at the time of sale. Wilmar will also provide QSL with an opportunity to access any ‘custom specification’ sugar that it manufactures on a pro-rata basis. Wilmar will facilitate cash flow management for QSL and growers by setting-off grower cane payables against QSL sugar payables. Raw sugar will be segregated at the terminal unless Wilmar and QSL agree otherwise. A commingling agreement sets the rules where both …

Wilmar interference with QSL Board riles growers

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

A COURT DECISION removing industry directors from the QSL Board is further evidence of the extent to which Wilmar Sugar is going in its bid to control the Queensland industry. “QSL is a not-for-profit, industry-owned marketing organisation,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “In 2014 Wilmar decided to separate from the whole-of-industry marketing arrangements and separate from QSL and ever since they have tried everything they can to encourage growers to do the same. “To go to court to challenge an industry-backed board restructure under these circumstances was another tactic in a campaign for control by Wilmar, and the court ruling in Wilmar’s favour is regrettable. “Wilmar is interfering in a company it sees as a threat to its plans — this is about control and not performance.” Yesterday’s Federal Court decision removes three grower and three miller directors from the QSL board. They had been appointed in November 2016 to add industry experience and perspective to QSL’s leadership in a time of increased competition in sugar marketing services — competition that Wilmar Sugar has opposed. “The grower directors are collateral damage in Wilmar’s big picture objective to remove other Queensland milling company directors from QSL’s Board,” Mr Galligan said. “Rather …

Sugar harvest 2017 contracts a step closer for growers

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

THE NEWS of a high-level agreement between Wilmar Sugar and QSL has been welcomed by peak sugarcane farming organisation CANEGROWERS as an important step towards key contracts being in place for the 2017 season. We understood that going into yesterday’s government-sponsored mediation the parties had only one or two issues left to resolve. On behalf of the 1500 growers which supply Wilmar Sugar mills, CANEGROWERS now urges both QSL and Wilmar to diligently work through the task of drafting contracts based on this agreement. Only when their On-Supply Agreement is finalised can grower collectives finalise their Cane Supply Agreements with Wilmar and our members can progress to signing contracts. On this matter, CANEGROWERS thanks its members for their patience and urges them to continue to take advice from their local office and directors. CANEGROWERS appreciates the efforts of the many strong political leaders who have exerted pressure over the past two years and helped bring the industry to this important step – Federal and Queensland MPs representing sugar seats, the Liberal National Party Queensland Opposition, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce. CANEGROWERS thanks the Queensland Government for its provision of the mediator …

More Breaking News: QSL welcomes long overdue development

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

  MANAGING DIRECTOR and CEO of Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), Greg Beashel (pictured), issued the following release at 8am this morning: Dear Grower — I am pleased to advise that following mediation in Brisbane yesterday, high-level agreement was reached on the three remaining threshold issues between QSL and Wilmar that have prevented the parties moving on to the contract negotiation and documentation phase. While QSL welcomes this long overdue development, there is still a lot of work to be done before a detailed contract is secured and Wilmar growers can begin to access QSL marketing and pricing services for the 2017 season and beyond. That final contract and its implementation is now our primary focus. QSL will provide Wilmar growers with regular updates on the progress of the final
OSA contract and when they will finally be able to choose QSL as a GEI Sugar Marketer and start pricing with us. In the interim, those interested in QSL marketing and pricing services are urged to complete and return the QSL Direct Pre-Registration form they should have received in the mail or via email recently. Growers can also find this form on our website on the ‘Wilmar Growers’ page within our QSL Marketing …

Agalert Breaking News: WILMAR CAPITULATES — but don’t sign yet

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

Following is the text of an email sent out by John Pratt, Executive General Manager, North Queensland, Wilmar Sugar, about 11pm last night: Dear Grower, Wilmar is now satisfied that the three issues that were obstacles to the finalisation of a GEI Sugar Sales Agreement (GEISSA) with QSL are agreed in principle. We are grateful for the assistance of Mr Richard Chesterman QC who mediated our negotiations today.  Mr Chesterman was made available to us by the Queensland Government and has agreed to play a continuing role as required by the parties. Wilmar and QSL have committed to concluding a formal agreement as soon as possible. Once a formal agreement is executed, we will be able to offer QSL as a marketer in our Cane Supply Agreement process. In the meantime, you may wish to consider the interim arrangements provided by the Marketing Transfer Agreement. This would allow you to forward price while keeping open your future GEI Marketer options. All kudos to Wilmar, the Queensland Government and all involved in bringing this dispute to resolution, but the fact remains that besides the learned input of Richard Chesterman QC, Agalert.com.au believes that if Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce became involved …

Sugar industry welcomes Indonesian tariff move

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

THE AUSTRALIAN sugar industry has welcomed a tariff agreement between Australia and Indonesia which will put our sugar exports on a par with our regional competitors. “Indonesia is an important and growing market for our export sugar,” said Paul Schembri, the Chairman of the Australian Sugar Industry Alliance Trade Committee. “Reducing the tariff on Australian sugar to five per cent will make our product more attractive to Indonesian food manufacturers and refiners. “We have been at a disadvantage since Thai exporters were granted a five per cent tariff in 2015, while our tariff stayed at effectively eight per cent (Rp 550,000 per tonne). “Australia provided roughly one-third of all Indonesian sugar imports during 2014 and 2015, but that tariff preference meant Indonesia moved to source almost all of its raw sugar imports from Thailand. “We lost about $500 million in trade opportunities at current prices. “With the five per cent tariff agreement, we can again compete on our strengths — quality, reliability and year-round availability.” The sugar tariff announcement came after a face to face meeting between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Indonesian President Joko Widodo. “We have worked since 2015 to have that tariff disparity between the …

Canegrowers organisation disappointed that Parliament sank arbitration bid

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

CANEGROWERS is disappointed the Queensland Parliament has failed to pass amendments to the Sugar Industry Act to allow for arbitration if negotiations and mediation don’t produce a workable contract between Wilmar Sugar and QSL for the 2017 sugarcane season. Representing the majority of the 1,500 family famers left out on a limb by their protracted negotiations, CANEGROWERS is supportive of all efforts to help move the parties towards an On-Supply Agreement. “Our members need that On-Supply Agreement to be in place before they can finalise Cane Supply Agreements which guarantee them a choice of sugar marketer,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “Yet the parties have been negotiating for over a year and have been unable to reach a conclusion. “We appreciate the leadership the Liberal National Party has shown on this issue and the support of the Katter’s Australian Party MPs who backed the amendment bill. However Independent MPs sided with Labor to defeat it. “This vote does not in any way affect those parts of the Sugar Industry Act which guarantee growers choice in marketing services,” Mr Galligan said. “We will continue our efforts to ensure all growers in Queensland can exercise that right. “Provision for arbitration in the …

MPs vote down LNP’s flawed sugar legislation — and we expose a furphy

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

AGRICULTURE MINISTER Bill Byrne has hailed a victory for common sense for all participants in the Queensland sugar industry, after Parliament rejected an LNP attempt to meddle further in a problem of its own creation. Though there was some concern for consternation when Member for Cook, Billy Gordon (representing a sugar growing area), forgot which way he was going to vote — first voting “no” (against the government), then changing his mind to vote with the government. According to Minister Byrne: “This is a good result for this vital Queensland industry, which does not need more rushed and ill-considered interference from an Opposition more concerned about its own internal agenda than providing both a short-term solution and long-term sustainability. “The focus now switches, as it should, to mediation brokered and funded by the Palaszczuk Government as Wilmar and QSL seek to reach a negotiated agreement.” “The LNP’s motives have been exposed by media reports as nothing more than a cynical attempt to stop their Federal colleague George Christensen storming out of the Coalition,” the Minister said. “It has been revealed Tim Nicholls and his deputy, Deb Frecklington, were doing the bidding of the Prime Minister and passing it off as sticking-up …

Palaszczuk Government proves its anti-sugar grower — Pearce gone for all money

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

LAST NIGHT, Bill Byrne and the Palaszczuk Labor Government turned its back on Queensland cane farmers and their families by failing to support the LNP’s laws (that are attempting) to end a long-running stalemate over sugar marketing agreements, said LNP leader Tim Nicholls after last night’s failed attempt to introduce a law to allow formal arbitration. Today, eminent former Queensland Supreme Court judge, the Honourable Richard Chesterman AO RFD, will mediate in the dispute. Perhaps the Palaszczuk Government is hedging its bets that this localised ‘game of thrones’ will swing the argument in favour of the miller, thereby allowing “Buckshot Bill” Byrne — who’s never tilled the soil in his life — the chance to also ride roughshod over an industry vital to the state’s dwindling coffers. It has to be considered what the Agriculture Minister if and when close to 200 AWU members working in sugar mills realise they don’t have a job at the start of this year’s crushing. Perhaps he may consider it “collateral damage” — that’s a real military term! After last night’s failed vote, LNP Leader Tim Nicholls said Labor’s Agriculture Minister Mr Byrne and his Labor colleagues had the opportunity to give cane growers …

Bill Byrne slates LNP ‘political opportunism’

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

AGRICULTURE MINISTER in the Queensland Government, Bill Byrne, says the LNP is intent on a shortcut to disaster for Queensland’s $2 billion sugar industry. “Tim Nicholls is rushing headlong into the unknown by curtailing consideration of his Bill to force more regulation on the sector,” the Minister said. “There will be no committee scrutiny of the Bill, no regulatory impact statement, no consultation with those who will be affected. “It is one of the most irresponsible actions I have witnessed as an MP.” Minister Byrne said the LNP’s tactic was deliberately designed to ensure minimal scrutiny of intended or unintended consequences and deliberately threatened to scupper a commercially negotiated settlement between QSL and Wilmar. “If Tim Nicholls’ Bill passes on Wednesday night, all bets are off in my opinion. “Who knows what mayhem it will unleash on a shell-shocked industry that has been badly damaged by the LNP’s 2015 amendments. “Those amendments are the root cause of the frustration, anger and distress that has afflicted the industry. “One thing is absolutely certain, the LNP’s Bill will not resolve the dispute between QSL and Wilmar. “Everyone in the industry knows that forced arbitration will be costly and protracted and will not …

On-Supply Agreement negotiations update — statements from both sides

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

Queensland Sugar Limited: Threshold issues remain QSL met with Wilmar again today for the latest round of On-Supply Agreement (OSA) negotiations. Unfortunately agreement was not reached, and a number of threshold issues remain in dispute. In order to progress this important matter, QSL has accepted the Queensland Government’s offer to provide the services of former Queensland Supreme Court Judge the Honourable Richard Chesterman AO RFD as a mediator, with our representatives to participate in a mediation session with Wilmar this coming Thursday. We remain focused on securing a commercial outcome that not only protects the interests of Wilmar Growers but also delivers access to QSL Marketing Choice as soon as practicable. I look forward to updating you on our progress later this week. GREG BEASHEL, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Sugar Limited   Wilmar: Lesser concern eliminated Dear Grower — We met again today with QSL to try to finalise the GEI Sugar Sales Agreement terms. We went into this meeting with just one issue not yet agreed in principle — the term of a GEISSA. On 21 February, we increased our offer from six years to 10 years. As you know, this offer was rejected. However, in the past …

LNP moves to break sugar marketing deadlock

Colin Jackson Current News, Sugar

HINCHINBROOK MP, Andrew Cripps, says the Queensland LNP has moved to break the sugar marketing dispute deadlock between Wilmar and QSL by introducing amendments to the Sugar Industry Act, in accordance with its commitment to cane growers between Ingham and Sarina. Mr Cripps said Leader of the Opposition, Tim Nicholls, would introduce the Bill today and move that it be debated urgently this week, as a result of QSL and Wilmar failing to enter into an on-supply agreement by the deadline the LNP gave the two parties notice of two weeks ago. “The Queensland LNP gave fair and reasonable notice to Wilmar and QSL and they have failed to finalise an on-supply agreement — I don’t know if one or both of those parties decided to call our bluff to see if we were fair dinkum or not, but that’s just blown up in their face” said Mr Cripps. “The Queensland LNP took action in 2015, when we worked with the Crossbenches to pass amendments to the Sugar Industry Act in relation to grower economic interest, choice in marketing and cane supply agreements, now we are acting again on on-supply agreements” he said. “I gave a commitment to cane growers …