Wayne Rodgers has been remembered by the sugar cane industry as one of its greatest ambassadors, an innovative farmer, and a gentleman.

The 52-year-old died last Saturday while working on a tractor in a shed on his Pimlico property, south of Ballina in northern New South Wales.

NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative chairman Jim Sneesby said it was a “tragic loss” and the industry was still in shock.

“Absolutely stunned to think that someone with so much knowledge and was such a good farmer could be taken so young,” Mr Sneesby said.

Mr Rodgers was a director on the cooperative board, a member of the Sunshine Sugar Ag Productivity Committee, and a past chairman of both the NSW Cane Growers’ Association and the Richmond River Cane Growers’ Association (RRCGA).

He first became involved in agripolitics in 1996 when he was elected to the RRCGA after a director position was left vacant following the death of his father, Warren Rodgers.

“In 2007 he became the chairman of the association at a time of real change as we embraced the construction of our two power plants and the collection of fuel from the field to go to power the plants at Condong and Broadwater,” Mr Sneesby said.

Mr Sneesby said Mr Rodgers made a significant contribution to the industry.

“He was a very good director and offered us good counsel,” he said.

“But the stand-out for me was with the restructure of research and development of the Australian sugar industry a number of years ago.

“We had to form our own agriculture advisory extension service and Wayne was the first chair of this committee.

“He worked tirelessly to ensure that our biosecurity, plant breeding, and extension issues and procedures were in place.”

Wayne Rodgers and his brother, Craig Rodgers, farmed together and were among the largest cane growers in the state.

“They were innovators in farming systems and harvesting, weed control, they were really good farmers,” Mr Sneesby said.

“I was talking to Wayne’s brother yesterday and we decided that Wayne was a big man, he had big ideas and he had big tractors, but he was gentle and he was a gentleman and we’re all very saddened that we haven’t got Wayne any longer to advise us.”

The Rodgers brothers hosted overseas delegations of millers, growers and co-operatives as well as local industry workshops on their farm.

Neighbours, friends and Sunshine Sugar staff have thrown their support behind the Rodgers family to help with planting and to finish the current harvest.

Source :