AN ANXIOUS few months came to a head last week for all Queensland and New South Wales cane growers when the vote to disallow the sugar industry code of conduct was put to the vote by NSW Liberal Democrat's Senator David Leyonhjelm and was defeated 37-18 in the Senate.
The comfort in this for growers has been that by the Senator putting this motion forward it has reinforced what we have always thought - that the majority of Senators support us and our businesses as Australian farmers, and also, just as importantly, the communities that rely on the sugar industry for economic survival. This senseless move by Senator Leyonhjelm has unfortunately not only caused stress and anxiety among growers but has also again wreaked havoc on any progress in relationship building between growers and millers since the three-year long marketing debacle took place in the lead-up to the code of conduct being introduced. Under this code, growers now have commercial fairness in negotiations, giving us the comfort to invest in future crops knowing that we have an instrument to fall back on when millers flex their monopoly muscle.
It was most unfortunate for Senator Leyonhjelm that he did not go to any length to educate himself on the intricacies of this issue before making a move that not only could have negatively impacted on the industry, but has also put his own political shortfalls on display for all to see.
In other recent news, the Mackay and Plane Creek regions were fortunate to get reasonable falls of rain of up to 100mm that will now put the 2018 crop on a good footing. The 2017 harvest has been proving a difficult one with a reduced crop and having to deal with damage and debris as a result of the impacts of Cyclone Debbie. Previous to these recent falls, conditions were becoming dire with ratoons struggling to re-germinate and plant cane showing signs of moisture stress, taking away from the development of the fledgling 2018 crop. In this region we celebrate the rewards of the beneficial rain event that will only stall the 2017 harvest for a short time. We keep in mind our counterparts in the south and north of us where the falls received in their regions have been excessive, causing major inundation, not to mention the difficulties to finalise the 2017 harvest.
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