Cane growers anxious over wait for contracts
CANEGROWERS Queensland chairman Paul Schembri says some Mackay growers are "anxiously" waiting to sign next year's contracts with milling company Wilmar.
Mr Schembri said the delay was due to Wilmar's opposition to the Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Act, which passed through State Parliament in December.
"Normally growers would have certainty two or three years ahead that contracts are in place," Mr Schembri said. "In this circumstance there is nothing in place for 2017. The clock is up and running, and for the growers, they need some certainty."
Mr Schembri said Wilmar should "respect" the sugar bill, which gave cane growers more say in sugar marketing.
"Queensland growers will not be bullied by companies who want to impose their marketing will on farmers," he said.
Wilmar general manager of government relations Chris Stewart said the company wouldn't sign contracts with growers until it understood the implications of the bill.
"We're studying the legislation, seeking legal advice and trying to work out what the legislation requires," he said.
Mr Schembri and Canegrowers Australia chief executive officer Dan Galligan visited Canberra this week to brief Federal Members of Parliament and deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss.
Capricornia Federal MP Michelle Landry hosted talks at Parliament House.
She described the situation as a "sugar war".
"I am informed that Wilmar's behaviour and treatment of local mum and dad cane growers is a disgrace," Ms Landry said in a written statement.
Mr Stewart said Wilmar had not been invited to participate in the briefings.
"We've been waiting since October 21 last year for Ms Landry to answer a request for a meeting," he said.