Growers sour over Queensland Sugar Limited snub

Paul Schembri urges growers to come together.
Paul Schembri urges growers to come together. Chris Lees

UNITED we stand, divided we fall.

This simple mantra was said passionately by a canegrower at Mackay Area Committee's annual information meeting.

The hot topic at the meeting was the decision of Singapore-based company Wilmar to withdraw from Queensland Sugar Limited.

Australian and Queensland Canegrowers chairman and Mackay Area Committee chairman Paul Schembri said the key to fighting this move was to have the canegrowers come together.

"At the end of the day, Wilmar can announce it's severing ties with QSL but they can't go about their new marketing arrangement without the support of growers and I don't believe they've got the support of growers," he said.

"Whatever marketing arrangements are put in place, the growers will have to have a huge influence and a huge say over it and we are strongly condemning Wilmar's announcement."

About 100 canegrowers gathered for the meeting with questions being asked about what the proposal would mean for their operations.

QSL chief executive officer Greg Beashel was a guest speaker at the regional conference.

Mr Beashel said QSL was confident about the long-term future.

"Regardless of what Wilmar does, we see a very strong future for the company and we've got the rest of the industry behind us," Mr Beashel said.

"As a result of some of the strong leadership, particularly from Mackay Sugar, we believe that we have a very strong proposition for the 2017 season and beyond."

Mr Beashel said he did not think other milling companies would follow Wilmar's lead.

Mackay Sugar has publicly committed to QSL beyond 2016 regardless of Wilmar's intentions.

"The QSL system today is the envy of the world and I think a lot of growers are scratching their heads as to why someone would want to change that - and they are nervous that that change is going to take money out of their pockets and put it into someone else's pocket," Mr Beashel said.

Topics:  cane growers jobs paul schembri sugar cane

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