Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud will tour Mackay, Proserpine, Bowen and Burdekin regions to talk to growers.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud will tour Mackay, Proserpine, Bowen and Burdekin regions to talk to growers. Julia Baker

New minister heads to sheds to talk sugar, horticulture

CANE farmers and fruit and vegie growers from Mackay, Proserpine, Bowen and the Burdekin will meet with the new Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud today and tomorrow.

The trip follows an historic win for the sugar industry with the signing of the Peru Australia Free Trade Agreement, delivering new market access opportunities - more than any other sugar exporting country has achieved in twenty years.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen welcomed the minister to his electorate to meet with sugar industry growers and leaders, as well as those in the horticulture industry.

"We have organised a number of shed meetings in the Burdekin, Bowen and Mackay so that the growers in these regions can speak directly to the new Minister about the issues affecting them," Mr Christensen said.

"For those in the sugar industry, those issues include the upcoming review of the Sugar Marketing Code of Conduct, and the push for a sugar tax.

"The Minister will also meet with representatives from Canegrowers Proserpine, Mackay Sugar and in the Bowen region, we will hear from fruit and vegie growers principally about export opportunities.

Minister Littleproud said he was keen to kick the dirt with real people and hear real stories of how the government's agricultural policies impact at the farm gate.

"What better way to get to as many people as possible as a shed crawl," Minister Littleproud said.

"The gross value of agricultural production in the Mackay region is on the up, jumping from $851 million in 2011-12 to $1.1 billion in 2015-16.

"Getting out and about I'm able to discuss the future and new opportunities like the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which will immediately eliminate most tariffs for horticulture products.

"Sugar will enjoy historic market access which is a huge win for Queensland cane farmers, who account for about 95 per cent of all sugar produced in Australia, with sugar exports generating around $2 billion for the state.

"The Coalition introduced a mandatory code of conduct for sugar last year to support contract negotiations between farmers, miller and marketers."


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