Wilmar growers sign interim agreements
MACKAY Canegrowers chairman and Plane Creek grower Kevin Borg is skeptical following claims Wilmar have come to a commercial agreement with Burdekin growers around sugar marketing.
Since Wilmar announced plans to break from current Queensland Sugar Limited marketing agreements, growers have been lobbying for government legislation to ensure they have a choice in who markets their sugar.
A Katter Party Bill that would ensure this choice is headed for parliament early December.
But this morning Wilmar announced they have come to a commercial agreement to resolve the matter with Burdekin growers.
Wilmar Sugar Australia has started signing cane growers in the Burdekin to interim 2017 agreements after a breakthrough with an independent collective.
Among the first to sign this week were Burdekin growers who commissioned independent marketing and legal reviews of the new Wilmar agreements in July 2015. The growers chose national legal firm Gadens and marketing expert Dean Nelson to advise them on the Wilmar agreements. Based on feedback from the independent experts, agreements were further amended before being accepted by the growers.
Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne MP, who last week labelled cane growers as "a bunch of militants" in their approach to the issue, was quick to welcome the move.
"A harmonious, fair and commercially sound environment for reaching agreements that suit the growers and the mills is the only way ahead for the industry. I congratulate the growers involved in this agreement for rejecting the fear mongering promulgated by the Liberal National Party," Minster Byrne said.
"This proves that sound heads can prevail."
But Mr Borg was yet to see the details of the agreement, and said government would still need to legislate to ensure choice is provided to growers down the track.
"We don't know the content of the agreement yet," Mr Borg said.
"It's probably something we've seen time and time again when the heats on them (Wilmar).
"It changes nothing. We still want choice and we need that safety net (legislation would provide). And we still want arbitration."
He said the announcement was "possibly just making a mountain out of a molehill".
Other media reported 22 growers signed up but this is yet to be confirmed.