Twenty-four jobs could be lost as part of a deal by MSF Sugar to sell its land holdings in Maryborough, Queensland.

MSF Sugar, owned by Thai company Mitr Phol, entered talks with an Australian company to sell 5,367 hectares of land.

MSF Sugar Company Secretary Brad Egerton said it was too early to confirm whether jobs will be lost.

“The discussions between the parties have yet to give rise to the creation of a formal contract at this stage,” Mr Edgerton said.

“Once the terms of sale have been agreed, assuming the sale proceeds, MSF Sugar will be better placed to confirm the extent of any job losses that would ensue,” he said.

Officials met with farm workers yesterday about redundancies.

Growers left in the dark

Maryborough Canegrowers chairman Jeff Atkinson said they have been stonewalled by the sugar miller.

“We thought we had a good relationship with MSF and we’ve always strived to have a good relationship and work together,” Mr Atkinson said.

“[We’re] certainly a little bit disappointed lately with no response to any questions asked by growers.”

Mr Atkinson said he was disappointed that growers weren’t given an option to buy the land.

“It was put up as one lump sum to one big buyer.”

Around 90 growers send their cane to the Maryborough mill, some from as far as the Sunshine Coast.

Mr Atkinson said growers are currently in limbo.

“There’s been no-one coming forward with any information to give to growers – do they plant, don’t they plant,” he said.

An aerial shot of cane fields over Maryborough. Cane is planted in neat rows broken into odd shapes by paths.
The land was offered as offered as a lump sum to one buyer, leaving local cane growers feeling left out.(Supplied)

Future of the Maryborough mill in question

The land being sold makes up a third of the cane that is sent to the mill which raises questions about the future viability of the mill.

“We don’t know what’s beyond 2020 and we have a three year supply contract with them, so we’re left a little bit high and dry,” Mr Atkinson explained.Want more local news? Subscribe to the Wide Bay Weekly email newsletter.

Maryborough Canegrowers said sending their sugarcane to other mills is a possibility but they need confirmation from MSF Sugar before making alternative arrangements.

“I think they need to honour their three-year contract,” he said.

MSF Sugar has not outlined the mill’s operations beyond 2020.

“The immediate priority is the 2020 season and questions relating to future operations are perhaps best left until such time as the results of the forthcoming season are known,” Mr Egerton said.

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