Peter Simpson sets a harvested field alight at Strathdickie on Saturday.
Peter Simpson sets a harvested field alight at Strathdickie on Saturday. Peter Carruthers

Wilmar and Canegrowers lock horns over sugar titles

STRATHDICKIE cane farmers Gary and Peter Simpson admit that burning cane stubble is not the best farm practice.

But the fires lit in their fields on Simpson and Gregory Cannon Valley Rds on Friday and Saturday night were necessary.

"Because of grub damage last year there was two hectares ... that had no cane in it all from grubs and dry weather last year," Mr Simpson said.

"It's either plough it out and re-plant it or leave it fallow."

Mr Simpson said this season he had left many fallow fields and the skyrocketing price of sugar had motivated him to get as much cane in the ground as possible.

"These prices only come along once or twice in a lifetime. So if we have got a good crop next year that is the goal," he said,

Mr Simpson said he was optimistic the cane supply and forward pricing agreement, to be supplied by Wilmar, would meet his needs as a grower.

On Friday last week, after a meeting between Canegrowers and Wilmar, the milling giant made available sample agreements online for growers to see.

A sticking point for grower representatives is the transfer of the title of the sugar.

Wilmar's proposal outlined a situation where they would retain ownership of the sugar until it was loaded onto the ship.

This could mean a delay in payment for growers and Canegrowers object to this draft proposal, Mike Porter of Proserpine Canegrowers said.

"Wilmar has title for the sugar, however title generally passes to the marketer once the sugar reaches a port's storage facility," he said.

Mackay Canegrowers chairman Kevin Borg said the Wilmar proposal offered last week was "not in the spirit" of amendments to the Sugar Marketing Act.

Mr Porter agreed and added: "Wilmar has complied with the legislation by offering growers choice, however that choice will be limited to a marketer that will accept growers' terms".

"That is not in the spirit of the legislation. Wilmar are dictating what their terms will be," he said.

Canegrowers will be advising their members not to sign any agreement with Wilmar until a better deal is struck for growers.


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