Bid to back battling cane growers

A NEW loan scheme could help cane growers on the Northern Rivers recover from last year's disastrous planting season and revitalise the industry.

NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative chief executive Chris Connors this week announced the start of the Grower Loan Planting Assistance Scheme, which is being offered in partnership with the Manildra Group.

Mr Connors said it was hoped the scheme would support growers' recovery to full production and increase the area of land under cane.

“We have been working on finalising this scheme for a while now,” he said.

“We had hoped for some government assistance, but we are very grateful to the Manildra Group for coming on board.

“Our growers have been struggling recently.

“If this scheme does what we hope it will, 2013 crops could return to record levels.

“We could see a huge turnaround.”

The scheme will offer plant loan assistance of $1000 per hectare and will be available to all cane planted this year and next year.

Repayments of the loan will come from cane payments over two harvesting seasons.

Grower and chairman of the Richmond River Cane Growers' Association, Wayne Rodgers, said the initiative was necessary because many people had attempted to plant at least twice last season without success.

“They had incurred significant costs but had nothing to show for it,” he said.

“They were in a situation where they simply couldn't afford the costs of planting this season.”

Meetings will be held with growers over the next week to discuss the details of the loan scheme.



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