Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Getting On With The Job

By Kevin Borg, Chairman, CANEGROWERS Mackay

Farmers are typically your quiet achievers. They get in, get on, and get the job done.
It’s been a frustrating start to the season again. Marian Mill has been a few weeks late getting up and running, and Plane Creek has been on a delayed start as miller and workers negotiate on wages.
In the background, CANEGROWERS has been in communication with unions and miller, making sure that it is clearly understood that, while worker capacity to earn a living, and mill profitability are both important to keep the industry going, it is coming at a cost to the grower and harvester sector as start dates get pushed back. CANEGROWERS will continue to monitor the situation and make representations where we are able.
The crop needs to be harvested, and the industry really cannot afford season after season running into Christmas. Eating your Christmas cake out in the harvester is a pretty poor way to spend the day, and worse, throws out all your crop cycles and farm profitability to boot.
We’ve been in the background, quietly fighting an action for the interpretation of the Cane Supply and Processing Agreement (CSPA) clause on the calculation Initial CCS for Mackay Sugar growers. It’s an important matter, affecting cash-flow at the start of the season. The action, heading to arbitration, has been borne out of a clear understanding of the CSPA, and many years’ experience and success in managing and maintaining conditions for growers.
We’ve been talking to councillors about rates. We’ve been busy recruiting harvest workers from all across the nation to come work the crush in Mackay through a comprehensive media campaign. CANEGROWERS Mackay has put government funding to good use running haulout driver courses to increase capability in the workforce. We’ve been running workshops on irrigation and building your triple bottom line. And we’ve been working together with other research, productivity, government and economic development organisations to build the local industry’s productivity, profitability, and environmental outcomes.
There is a top professional team working at our Wood Street office, ensuring our members can come in, sit down and talk with the people who process their payroll, their insurances, who organise their farm leases, and who coordinate training across transport, chemical use, business and ag skills. People who will help them get advice on legal and regulatory matters. It’s a big job, and committed, caring member service is at the core.
Queensland CANEGROWERS has been successful in recent times in fighting hard for the supply chain affected by the closure of Mossman mill. For the extension of disaster funding for growers affected by Cyclone Jasper. Continuing to develop programs like the blockchain project that create traceability for Australia’s quality, sustainably produced sugar and sugarcane-based bio-commodities helps build brand and protect our markets.
As one of Australia’s largest and oldest grassroots-run grower organisations, CANEGROWERS typically doesn’t blow its own trumpet. As a not-for-profit, the organisation is very conscious that a large chunk of its funding comes from member levies.
Members trust us to invest these in the future of their agribusinesses: by fighting for the interests of growers, and the success of the industry. We owe it to members to make sure that happens, and that’s why 80% of growers put their faith in CANEGROWERS.
We put in the hard yards, talk straight, represent our members. And that earns the respect of governments, trade organisations and businesses from Australia and around the world, causing them to seek us out to discuss matters of policy, industry, and international trade. We have been the leading grower representative organisation for 100 years, and when you put the experience of over 80 elected representatives statewide together, it certainly attracts the attention of organisations we work with.
There’s a couple of mobs out there that have had a good go at duplicating what we do, and reckon they can do it better, but CANEGROWERS just keep being like that quiet confident farmer out in the paddock, tending the crop, working away in the shed keeping everything running. Farmers are good at that.

Last week, CANEGROWERS Mackay presented to the Mackay Regional Council, providing an update on the status, challenges and opportunities for the region’s cane growing sector. Pictured are District Manager Michelle Martin, Chairman Kevin Borg and Deputy Chairman Joseph Borg. Photo credit: Kirili Lamb

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