SUGAR STOUSH: Canegrowers Proserpine manager Michael Porter, Canegrowers Proserpine directors Peter Quod, Lindsay Altmann, Bill Blair, chairman Glenn Clarke and director John Casey. (Absent: Deputy chairman Gary Simpson, director Tony Hinschen)
SUGAR STOUSH: Canegrowers Proserpine manager Michael Porter, Canegrowers Proserpine directors Peter Quod, Lindsay Altmann, Bill Blair, chairman Glenn Clarke and director John Casey. (Absent: Deputy chairman Gary Simpson, director Tony Hinschen) Matthew Newton

Contracts axed

PROSERPINE cane farmers are without a Cane Supply Agreement (CSA) with the Wilmar-owned Proserpine Mill for the 2017 season.

The CSAs with the region's cane farmers were terminated by Wilmar on February 20 and notice was given to Canegrowers Proserpine on February 23.

It is the first time since the sugar industry was de-regulated in 2004 and CSAs introduced that either party has terminated a CSA.

The move, however, was not an unexpected one.

In April last year Wilmar served notice of intent to exit the marketing set up.

Its intent was to drop Queensland Sugar Limited's (QSL) marketing structure after the 2016 season and go it alone, sparking a still unresolved dispute between grower collectives and millers over ownership of the commodity.

As a result, Wilmar had to terminate the current agreement, which was due to rollover on February 28 and would have locked them into supplying sugar to QSL for the 2017 season.

Wilmar executive general manager for North Queensland John Pratt said cane supply agreements needed to be amended to reflect the model that was being negotiated for raw sugar marketing beyond 2016.

"Wilmar wrote to Proserpine growers last week to formally confirm this is the case," he said.

"It is our intention to work with grower collectives to develop a commercially-agreed marketing arrangement."

Canegrowers chairman Glenn Clarke said Canegrowers would continue to negotiate with Wilmar over the coming weeks and months to try to come to a mutual agreement on marketing.

"We've been talking collectively, as growers, to Wilmar ... but we haven't been getting too far.

"But now they've given notice I guess we're starting to get a little bit more serious," Mr Clarke said.

"The CSA is fine, apart from the marketing.

"It's just the bit where it says who determines the price of our sugar, whether it's QSL or it's somebody else that's the issue."

Canegrowers Proserpine manager Michael Porter said in the mean time, it was business as usual for the region's growers and that Canegrowers would continue to work with Wilmar on a replacement CSA for 2017 and onwards.

"What we're looking for is giving the grower the choice.

"In the end, if the grower gets the choice and he says Wilmar is doing the right thing and they have the right products and they're delivering the right price, then they'll get all the grower's sugar ... if that's what they're going to do."

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