Days from the start of the 2021 sugarcane harvest, CANEGROWERS grower leaders are feeling upbeat at an important meeting in Cairns.
More than 80 people are at the CANEGROWERS Leadership Forum, including the National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson and grower leaders from every sugarcane region in Queensland.
“Growers are the backbone of the Australian sugar industry which is the second biggest exporter of raw sugar in the world, and we take this responsibility very seriously,” CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said.
“This Forum is a time to pause and reflect, to take stock of our personal and collective approach to our roles in CANEGROWERS and to set some goals around our contribution in the future.
“After this week until the end of the year, it’s going to be heads down as we all work to get around 30 million tonnes of sugarcane to the mills.
“It’s been the most variable growing season I’ve witnessed with huge rain in the north and drought conditions in the south, but the good news is that sugar prices are hitting $500 per tonne and we are feeling energised about our industry.”
The 2021 season has challenges including new arrangements for Bundaberg and Maryborough growers after two mills closed last year.
“This is where CANEGROWERS is in its element, on the ground representing and advocating for growers to ensure everything is ready for the harvest to start,” Mr Schembri said.
“At the local level, in every sugarcane growing district along 2,000kms of coastline from May to November, CANEGROWERS staff and elected representatives will be on hand to assist members with harvest, transport and milling issues.
“CANEGROWERS values and supports every grower who stands up to represent their colleagues and events like this Leadership Forum are an important part of that – providing opportunities to share knowledge and build on skills.”
Ms Simson knows the challenges of representing fellow producers while also running a property, in her case a mixed farming enterprise at Liverpool Plains in New South Wales.
“Leadership can take many forms, whether it’s in your local community or for your industry at a state or national level,” Ms Simson said. “Either way, I’d urge growers who wish to make a change to consider stepping up. By doing so you are setting a great example for those who come after you. I congratulate CANEGROWERS on supporting the sugar industry’s leaders of the future.”
“Leadership and representing your fellow growers is a privilege and a challenge and I urge all CANEGROWERS members to give it a thought ahead of our triennial elections which are due next year,” Mr Schembri said.