Grower confusion delays plough-out

By Patricia Coats

SAL Bonanno has been told his farm has smut, but until the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) shows him exactly where the infested cane is he is not going to do anything about it.

He is one of many growers in the Isis and Bundaberg regions who are angry with the lack of communication from the DPI&F about the plough-out and destruction of smut-infested sugar cane.

Growers have been promised a state government contribution of $2000 a hectare to destroy smut-infested cane, but Mr Bonanno is sceptical.

Mr Bonanno said when he was first told he had smut he was given a map with a block circled, but no one could physically show him the smut infestation.

Yesterday he received a letter regarding the plough-out, indicating the smut was in a different block.

"They have not marked the original block where I was told it was infected," Mr Bonanno said.

"If you can show me I've got smut I'll plough it out.

"But as far as I'm concerned we haven't got smut until someone can prove otherwise."

Isis Canegrowers chairman Wayne Stanley said there had been a general lack of communication with infested property owners, and he was concerned the requirements for obtaining the plough-out contribution were not clear.

He said to qualify growers needed to apply before November 15, and plough-out cane before November 30.

Mr Stanley said they hoped to clarify the issues at a meeting at the Isis Canegrowers Building at 12.30pm tomorrow.

Bundaberg Canegrowers President Alwyn Heidke said the group was concerned with how smut was being handled, and urged infested property owners to attend.

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