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Rain costs cane growers

North Gregory sugarcane farmer Gary Simpson is trying to stay positive depite the doom and gloom of sugarcane farming in the Proserpine District.
North Gregory sugarcane farmer Gary Simpson is trying to stay positive depite the doom and gloom of sugarcane farming in the Proserpine District.

CONTINUING rain could cost cane growers in the Proserpine district up to $12 million.

Canegrowers Proserpine manager Mike Porter estimated growers could be 300,000 tonnes short on production for the season unless the weather improves.

“This is not a good season,” he said.

The Proserpine Sugar Mill has been closed for more than a week, meaning it has been closed for more than 30 days this year.

North Gregory cane farmer and Canegrowers Proserpine director Gary Simpson is trying to stay positive in what he called one of the worst years he had seen since he started farming nearly 30 years ago.

“Resilience is a good word for farmers because you have to be, otherwise you wouldn't make it [through seasons like this],” he said.

While he remains positive, he is certainly not in denial about the significance of the situation for him and other cane growers.

“La Nina weather events seem to be felt all up and down the coast, I hope that our banks and Government are understanding and give support where needed in these exceptional circumstances,” he said.

Mr Simpson said it's not just the present season that the sugar cane growers are worried about.

“Bogging of our waterlogged paddocks will have a direct impact on our future seasons,” he said.

Mr Power said the mill was committed to processing the crop, and there were options for growers.

“Under the Cane Supply Contract, cane that has a CCS of less than seven, or purity less than 75 per cent is condemned,” he said.

“The committee responsible for managing cane supply met last week and agreed on a policy that will ensure that cane with a CCS as low as 5.5 and a purity as low as 67 per cent will be accepted for crushing and growers will receive some payment for such cane.

“Payments should generally cover or nearly cover the harvesting costs."

Mr Simpson said if rain stops, farmers must decide whether to cut and sell this season or build for future years.


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