Sugarcane growers in southern Queensland say MSF Sugar needs to come clean about its plans for the Maryborough Mill following the news the company is selling farmland.
CANEGROWERS Maryborough Chairman Jeff Atkinson said the mill-owned farms account for 30% of the cane processed at the mill along with cane from individual growers in the Maryborough and Sunshine Coast regions.
“The huge risk is that if that land is taken out of cane production by being converted to some other crop, the mill will struggle remain viable and growers like me will be left high and dry,” Mr Atkinson said.
The 5,367 hectares of farmland was not offered publicly to the local growing community.
“We are very disappointed that local growers did not have an opportunity to consider purchasing some of the land,” Mr Atkinson said. “If it is going to the highest bidder, who knows what its future will be?
“We are also nervous because in its notification to CANEGROWERS today, MSF Sugar has only given assurances that crushing will proceed for the 2020 season.
“We need to know what happens beyond that!
“CANEGROWERS Maryborough members have a three-year supply contract with Maryborough Mill, will that be honored?”
Some of the land has been leased from MSF Sugar by local farmers and Mr Atkinson said it was important that the company adhered to the agreements it had with the growers.
“These growers have been working this land as an important part of the viability of their farm businesses and they deserve to be treated well,” Mr Atkinson said.
“This decision by MSF Sugar will have repercussions right through our community.
“Around 40 jobs are directly linked to the operation of these farms, jobs in our industry growing and harvesting cane.
“Across our district this week there are many families facing uncertainty, families which have been loyal to MSF Sugar and they deserve a clear explanation of what the company is planning.”