Cane farmer Ron Gurnett is worried about his farm, given Wilmar Sugar’s decision to withdraw from QSL.
Cane farmer Ron Gurnett is worried about his farm, given Wilmar Sugar’s decision to withdraw from QSL. Tony Martin

Mackay cane grower sour over Wilmar decision

ALL Plane Creek cane grower Ron Gurnett wants is some certainty.

The 60-year-old has been farming since he was about 15, and the bulk of his retirement super is tied up in his farm.

But after Wilmar Sugar declared it would pull out of the Queensland Sugar Limited marketing agreement in 2017, he is not sure what his farm will be worth.

This has left him feeling stressed, unsure about his farming future and he admits he has lost trust in the company his sugar is processed through.

It's not a good position to be in, but he is not alone.

Canegrowers and Wilmar Sugar representatives have been locked in a bitter battle over the decision and yesterday Maryborough Sugar Factory also announced it would withdraw from QSL.

Since Wilmar publicly announced its plans to pull out of QSL, the Daily Mercury has been sent more than 30 letters to the editor on the issue, with farmers, politicians and industry members weighing in.

Mr Gurnett wrote a letter last month. He didn't mince his words when he said: "If we lose this right then us, as farmers, may as well lie down right now and wait to be fed the scraps."

Growers reached into their own pockets to pay the shortfalls of the 2010 season, when the mill had marketed more sugar than was produced due to poor growing conditions. But now the milling company had stripped them of their right of having an economic interest in their sugar, he said.

"I just want some security," Mr Gurnett said.

When cane from Mr Gurnett's 10,000 tonne farm is taken to the mill after 2017, he will not know what price he will get. That will be determined by Wilmar's decision, and he fears it will be lower than that needed to keep his business afloat.

"We are locked into this milling system and we have no control," he said.

Government intervention to change legislation to protect growers' economic interest was essential, he said.

 

Are you worried about Wilmar pulling out of QSL?

This poll ended on 29 June 2014.

Current Results

Yes

76%

No

23%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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