A Happy and prosperous New Year to all and my best wishes for further progress between canefarmers and other industry participants in 2012.
2011 season ended in the Burdekin with some of the lowest recorded ccs readings for the district and because one third of the district’s cane was left in the paddocks in 2010, a record crop being harvested in 2011. The high season’s tonnages of 9.55 million tonnes, belied those ‘wasted’ tonnes that, due to the extended season, went up in smoke at season’s end. Much of the standover cane simply burnt away and left the one year cane to harvest, too late in the year for optimum ccs or ratooning for 2012. The season average of 13.6 ccs was well down on most previous years and reflected the lower readings averaged from the large volume of standover cane.
For Burdekin canefarmers, the season started as a financial nightmare with 1/3 of the district’s 2010 crop as standover (maximum of 4% standover in previous years) and the added blow of the CSR/Sucrogen pricing debacle, where growers were forced to repay additional charges on industry pricing shortfalls, as well as honouring their own personal pricing commitments.
A disastrous May start to the harvest should eliminate any suggestion of this happening again and confirm that the district’s mills must be maintained and improved to a standard that allows the crop to be harvested within the optimum harvesting period and according to the BSES standard. Anything less, is crippling the ability of farmers to optimise their productivity and financial returns. CCS and cane purity results for 2011 were severely affected by the early start, late finish and massive standover crop, all at a cost to the grower.
In thanking all for their cooperation and patience this year, Craig Doyle, Sucrogen’s Executive General Manager, Cane Products advises, “The wash down of the factories is under way…There is much to do and the later finish to the season means we will have another shorter-than-usual maintenance period.
“We are pleased to be the new owners of Proserpine Mill…The sale transaction was finalised on 9 December, after a successful creditors’ vote the same day. Victoria Mill Site Manager Russell Brown was seconded to the Proserpine project for most of this year and will oversee the transition to Sucrogen ownership. The voluntary administration process delayed capital and maintenance at the mill by several weeks. However, we have plans in place to make up this lost time and will do our best to have the mill ready for the start of the crushing.”
In conjunction with the last board meeting for 2011, the ACFA board members attended the Bonsucro international sugar conference, held in Brisbane. The conference was well attended and offered an opportunity for interaction with both sugar and related industry participants from around the world.
The ACFA board also attended the QSL (Queensland Sugar Limited) AGM, as did local Burdekin QSL representative, Max Menzel. With the emphasis on attendance by local representatives during the last QSL elections, it was disappointing that other Burdekin delegates did not attend this meeting, to put forward issues to the board and staff of QSL. Max put forward a number of initiatives and met with staff and board members to discuss the proposals at length afterwards. I took the opportunity to thank the outgoing Chairman and staff members, Alan Winney, Neil Taylor and John Bird and congratulated all on their professionalism and work for QSL and the industry, in John Bird’s case, over very many years of dedicated service.
I also attended a sitting of the Queensland Parliament during the debate on changes to the weapons act and banning of pocket knives, etc. I was appalled to hear each member of the LNP argue the reasons why the legislation was unsuitable, and then say they would still vote to support it. I met afterwards with Katter’s Australian Party members, Shane Knuth and Leader, Aidan McLindon, who opposed the legislation and also discussed the sugar industry issues at length. Farmers, fishermen, many workers and even youngsters in the defence force cadets carry pocket knives, Stanley knives, etc. at various times in the course of their normal activities; this is a government and opposition gone mad with over-governance on an Orwellian scale. Take care next time you go out to buy a set of steak knives, technically, you may be branded a criminal, as many Victorians have found since similar legislation was enacted there.
At year’s end, I met with George Christensen, Member for Dawson and John Cobb, Opposition Primary Industry spokesman, to discuss issues of concern locally and in the industry generally.
I also attended meetings with local Katter party candidate, Ron Wadforth and Hon Bob Katter MP to discuss their industry policies and I was impressed with their emphatic support for the farming community, their understanding of the detrimental effects of deregulation and support for mandated ethanol use in fuel.
DERM reef protection unit held a showcase and forum in Ayr and I met with Ben Baldwin and Peter Twine from SRDC to discuss outcomes for research in 2012 and beyond. A meeting with SRDC Chairman, Ian Causley and CEO, Annette Sugden, provided a further opportunity to discuss and outline areas of interest for research and development in the industry.
SRDC Grower Award nominations are due 10th February and will be presented at GIVE, 2012 March 12-14.
1. Grower Service to Industry Award (Recognises outstanding service by an Australian Sugarcane Grower, to industry)
2. Project Supporter Award (Recognises significant involvement and support provided to Grower Group Projects; growers, industry staff, private sector are all eligible)
3. Grower Group Project Award (Recognises a completed Grower Group Project that has provided significant benefit to our industry)
4. Most Promising Project Award (Recognises an exciting project not yet completed)
Ongoing representations and meetings with Sucrogen staff, harvesting contractors and others continued throughout 2011with successful outcomes. Growers are reminded that all grouping and siding agreements need to be reviewed and any proposed changes will require early application in order to be processed ahead of the 2012 season.
Pricing information meetings and an ACFA collective and branch meeting will be held to discuss outcomes of 2011 season and impacts on growers and proposed changes to the collective agreement for 2012, ahead of negotiations.