WILMAR MILL: Canegrowers have rejected draft cane supply agreements offered by Wilmar.
WILMAR MILL: Canegrowers have rejected draft cane supply agreements offered by Wilmar. Peter Carruthers

Our Canegrowers say ‘No’ to Wilmar

CANEGROWERS Proserpine has rejected draft cane supply agreements and is working on a list of amendments that will be submitted back to Wilmar this week.

The erosion of QSL's ability to continue to serve local growers by withholding the title of sugar until it is free on board is one of the issues Canegrowers has with the draft agreements.

Under draft agreements, QSL would need to receive finance to own sugar before it was loaded for export.

But Wilmar have defended the draft agreement and implied if QSL is not able to get finance they should get out of the sugar marketing game.

"What the growers are saying is QSL doesn't like the terms that Wilmar is offering for the sale of sugar. QSL is saying 'because of what Wilmar are saying we wouldn't be able to pay the grower'," a Wilmar spokesperson said, adding "QSL is a company that wants to compete in a global sugar market and they haven't got the finance to make the payments?"

QSL, is a not for profit voluntary single-desk organisation that enjoyed a good relationship with the Proserpine mill owners in what Mike Porter of Canegrowers described as a "world-class model".

After the takeover of the Proserpine mill by Wilmar in 2010, the company signed an agreement with the Foreign Investment Review Board that ensured the relationship with QSL would be maintained.

Two years ago Wilmar said they were not renewing the Raw Sugar Supply Agreement with QSL. This year marks the end of the three years of supply Wilmar is obliged to give after withdrawing from the RSSA.

Mr Porter said this amounted to a reneging of the contract made with the FIRB.

"They went against it and secondly they went against it without consulting with the growers," he said.

Mr Porter said draft agreements proposed by Wilmar gave grower choice but at the same time didn't offer real choice and were unacceptable to Canegrowers.

The spokesperson for Wilmar said other marketers could be competitive "but it's up to them to do it".

"If QSL say they can't offer any payments that should tell you something," they said.

Mr Porter defended the voluntary single-desk model QSL operates under and said last year it received a higher price for sugar on international markets than Wilmar, adding Australia was the only country in the world that recognised the grower economic interest in sugar.

"Wilmar's arguments are complete nonsense. They just want to get control of the sugar," Mr Porter said.

Canegrowers are fighting to keep third party marketers in the game and on an even footing with Wilmar to ensure growers get a fair and equitable deal.


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