Far Northern Milling Pty Ltd announced today that it had entered into a conditional contract to buy Mossman Mill from Mackay Sugar Limited (“MSL”) When MSL announced last year that they would be selling Mossman Mill in order to focus on their Mackay assets the local growers realised that the only way to secure the future of the mill and their farming businesses was to pool their resources and find a way to acquire the mill. The three Bargaining Agents representing the cane farmers Mossman CANEGROWERS, Tableland CANEGROWERS and Australian Cane Farmers Association have worked closely together to form Far Northern Milling which will buy the mill.
Maryann Salvetti, Chair of Tableland CANEGROWERS and a Director of Far Northern Milling said, “A lot of work has to be done to meet the conditions required for the transaction to complete. However, the foundations are in place to buy the mill and secure the future for the growers, mill workers and the township of Mossman.”
“The hardest and most critical part was to secure long term supply arrangements with growers and to raise funds from growers for the transaction” Mrs Salvetti said. “We recently went to growers with a poll on whether they would continue to supply the mill and contribute to costs. We have now closed the poll and have been overwhelmed by the result .We have sufficient commitment of tonnage to ensure the mill can remain viable. To be fair on growers we made contribution to costs optional but found the majority of growers prepared to contribute to costs and ownership in the new entity. In fact, many have said they would contribute more than was requested from them”.
Chairman of Australian Cane Farmers Association and Director of Far Northern Milling, Don Murday, said that he was incredibly pleased with the outcome, “The situation has been fragile for some time. However when the Tableland growers confirmed their support to continue to supply cane to Mossman Mill we knew there was a pathway forward to keep the mill viable. It is incredibly pleasing when all stakeholders work together to create a solution that benefits both the industry and the community. Special mention should go to Douglas Shire Council who have shown leadership and support at a critical time during what has been a lengthy process”.
Once the future of the mill is stabilised the plan is to create long term value by producing higher value products. Rajinder Singh from Tableland CANEGROWERS who is a Director of Far Northern Milling has been leading the value adding initiatives. He said, “We have significant spare land adjacent to the mill where we plan to create the “Daintree Bio Precinct”. This will be an area in which we can provide infrastructure and renewable energy solutions so that we can create low impact, high value adding processing facilities. Our initial focus is on green chemicals. The Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning has played a critical role in introducing us to credible international companies that produce high value products through environmentally friendly processes. Their processes and products are consistent with the environmental credentials of the Mossman and Daintree area. We believe that we have a strong prospect of attracting these companies to the Bio Precinct”.
Liza Giudice who is a Director of Far Northern Milling and MossmanCANEGROWERS said she was excited about the prospects for younger growers in the area. “The uncertainty about the future of the mill has meant that younger growers have been hesitant to invest in their businesses and some have considered leaving the area. If we can secure the future of the mill it will give younger growers the confidence to invest in the existing farms and also take on more area. Bringing the mill under the ownership of the Mossman and Tableland growers will help create healthy generational change for the cane farming community. At present the uncertainty means older growers can’t retire because it is difficult to sell farms. So, this will allow transition which will be good for both younger and older growers.”
For Comment please contact Maryann Salvetti on 0409 637 044