After almost three years of fighting to secure their right to choice in marketing, and with the harvest due to start within three months, Queensland cane growers have finally glimpsed light at the end of the tunnel.
The news of a high-level agreement between the miller Wilmar Sugar and the industry-owned marketer QSL is an important step towards key contracts being in place for the 1500 farmers who supply the company’s sugar mills.
CANEGROWERS now urges both QSL and Wilmar to diligently and quickly work through the task of drafting their On-Supply Agreement (OSA) based on this agreement.
Only when this OSA is finalised can grower collectives finalise their Cane Supply Agreements with Wilmar and CANEGROWERS members can progress to signing contracts which allow them to choose between the miller and QSL as the marketer of their economic interest sugar.
CANEGROWERS appreciates the efforts of the many strong political leaders who have exerted pressure and helped bring the industry to this important step – Federal and Queensland MPs representing sugar seats, the Liberal National Party Queensland Opposition, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
CANEGROWERS thanks the Queensland Government for its provision of a mediator, former Supreme Court judge Richard Chesterman, who took charge of the crucial meeting between QSL and Wilmar.
The mediator was appointed on the same day the Liberal National Party introduced to the Queensland Parliament a bill to amend the Sugar Industry Act to provide for arbitration to resolve deadlocked OSA negotiations. The Bill was defeated by just one vote.
A meeting in Canberra recently, between CANEGROWERS representatives, the Prime Minister and other government MPs discussed the possibility of the Federal Government introducing a mandatory code of conduct for the sugar industry as an option for a long term solution.