Another organisation coming to the cane field
BUNDABERG Canegrowers have been left with a sour taste in their mouth after AgForce added sugarcane as one of its commodities.
Last month, AgForce accepted a membership request from Invicta Cane Growers Organisation in the Burdekin.
As a result ICGO will become AgForce Cane by the end of the month in time for the crushing season.
Bundaberg Canegrowers chairman Allan Dingle said the organisation had been around for close to 100 years and couldn’t see why AgForce wanted to dip its toe in the water.
“Locally, Canegrowers has membership of about 95 per cent, and from where we sit as Canegrowers we can’t see any reason why they would want to change,” he said.
“We are all cane growers on our board, both locally and around the state, and everyone in a representative role is a cane grower.
“We’ve got cane growers representing cane growers and we understand the interests of our members and the needs of the industry.”
Mr Dingle said he was worried the move would give the government mixed messages on key issues.
“When there’s more than one industry organisation, representing an industry it gives mixed because quite often it’s not the same message,” he said.
“From where I sit, Queensland Canegrowers has about 4000 members which is probably as many as the whole of AgForce.
“We’re quite a big commodity group in our own right, and are more than capable of looking after the interests of our members and the industry.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said AgForce was approached by Burdekin farmers.
Mr Guerin said it was the first time since AgFroce was formed that a commodity came to them asking to join.
“We had no thought about adding cane until we were approached by cane farmers in the Burdekin,” he said.
“They wrote to us in February and ask that they could have a conversation with us without any predetermined outcome about whether or not there would be value for them joining AgForce and whether AgForce felt there would be value for AgForce.
“The end result of those conversations were that there are different views, but the overwhelming majority of views were that there are benefits for both parties and for industry.”
Mr Guerin said having the ICGO come across as the inaugural AgForce Cane board would bring instant knowledge and experience to the cane field.
“How AgForce works is like a matrix, on the vertical line is commodities and on the horizontal line are the cross cutting issues,” he said.
“A horizontal line might be things like reef regulations or vegetation management or something that relates to all commodities we look after so we have a core team that works on those issues on behalf of all members. Then we have verticals (for commodities); each vertical has a board of producers. “
Mr Guerin said AgForce Cane would stick to the Burdekin and Herbert areas, before branching out to areas such as Bundy after at least a year.