27 June 2014
Australian Cane Farmers Association (ACFA) has today called on Government to intervene and demand fair play in the future marketing of Queensland’s raw sugar.
The call comes in the wake of MSF Sugar Limited giving their resignation to the industry-owned marketing body, Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL). The news follows on the heels of Wilmar Sugar Australia’s announcement to resign from QSL in April.
ACFA Chairman, Don Murday says that this is not a time for Government to delay as swift, decisive action is needed to ensure cane farmers are given a choice as to where and how their share of sugar is marketed and priced.
“It is no secret that the international sugar trade which has invested in Australian sugar milling assets, along with our competitors have an interest in destroying QSL,” Mr. Murday said.
“Enough is enough! Farmers have spoken and have made it crystal clear that they want to ensure that their industry-owned marketing body survives.
“Most of QSL’s cash flow is destined for farmers’ bank accounts so no one should claim that farmers have no say in QSL.”
“Cane farmers tell us that QSL is important to them because they own a share of QSL and have a century of trust in this structure.”
Mr. Murday continued to say that Queensland cane farmers are set to be yet another in a line of rural industries who will see its farmer’s captive to more powerful interests unless Government acts now.
“Our current marketing model is the envy of the world, it would be total madness for the Australian Government to sit back and let foreign owned sugar trading companies destroy it,” Mr. Murday continued.
In the deregulation of the sugar industry in 2006, millers gained the long coveted ownership of the sugar and the ACFA says it was only a matter of time for newer, more ambitious mill owners to seize control in a crude display of market power.
“Cane farmer’s rights have now effectively been exported,” says Mr. Murday.
The ACFA notes that the market power situation facing cane farmers are today is similar to that of the early Queensland industry which lead to the Royal Commission of 1912 where the Commission observed:
But we take it that Australian statesmanship should seek to prevent as well as to ameliorate – to deal with evils as they arise without waiting for them to reach a stage when any remedy must involve far-reaching social and industrial dislocation (Brown et al 1912).
“The facts identified in 1912 ring just as true today and there is a clear role for responsible Government to prevent a disaster rather than to simply pick up the pieces,” Mr. Murday concluded.
ACFA will continue to work with cane farmers and other industry bodies to ensure an appropriate outcome.
Don Murday- ACFA Chairman- 0418 774 499
Amanda Sheppard- Communications- (07) 3839 1900 or 0429 459 497