Cane harvest starts with two mills set for ownership change

A nervous and reduced 2019 sugarcane harvest has kicked off in Queensland with growers in two regions waiting on the outcome of mill sales negotiations.

“Growers in both the Mackay and Mossman districts are hoping the next few weeks bring positive outcomes to transactions which will secure the future of their local mills,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “Those outcomes will mean they can make confident decisions about planting and fertilising for the 2020 season.”

CANEGROWERS has applauded both the Queensland and Federal governments for committing to support the grower purchase of the Mossman Mill, which started its 2019 crush on 4 June (2019) and the additional commitment by the Queensland Government to Mackay Sugar which began this season’s operations on the same day.

Glen Fasano, Chairman of CANEGROWERS Mossman, said the past 26 months had been a long slog of negotiations.

“The last pieces of the puzzle are finally being negotiated,” he said. “We are hopeful that the government funding arrangements can be finalised prior to the 14 June (2019). If it drags on beyond this date, we are in a world of uncertainty.”

Growers in the Mossman and Tableland regions have already invested 50 cents per tonne of cane produced in 2018 to lay the groundwork for the Mossman Mill transaction and once it goes through have committed $20 million of their own money, over the next 10 years, for investment in the Mill.

“This purchase will secure not only the future of sugarcane growers around Mossman but it is also charting an exciting, new venture for the Douglas Shire community by tapping into the growing demand for sustainable products aligning with the Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan initiative,” Mr Fasano said.

“A successful outcome for Mossman Mill has broader implications as it is a required step to allow the transaction between Mackay Sugar Limited and Nordzucker to move forward, giving growers in that region much needed security for the future as well,” Mr Galligan added.

Across Queensland’s growing regions, weather impacts mean that the 2019 harvest will be down almost one million tonnes of sugarcane on 2018.

“Very wet weather which created some flooding in the north and extremely dry conditions in the southern regions have impacted the cane’s growth and yield,” Mr Galligan said. “The pre-season estimate is for a 31.6 million tonnes harvest.”