FACING the toughest season in more than 40 years and a simultaneous restructure of the industry's research and development bodies, now more than ever, local farmers will be looking toward Clarence River Canegrowers Association (CRCA) for leadership.
Newly appointed CRCA president and chairman Ross Farlow said aside from a tough season, one of the NSW sugar cane industry's key concerns was a proposed major restructure to its research and development arms, aiming to change the way it is funded and sourced.
"Industry groups have been working together to get more information on the proposed re- structure and we are aiming to collectively develop a recommendation," Mr Farlow said.
"It's been ongoing over the past 6-12 months and is coming to a head now."
Mr Farlow said regional canegrowers would receive an information pack with a recommendation from the NSW Sugar industry, to be followed by a voting package in August.
"We are looking to continue with our plant-breeding program to ensure growers have access to new varieties that will suit our area, mainly two-year cropping and frost-tolerant varieties," he said.
"There's a lot to be sorted out."
A fourth-generation canefarmer from Maclean, Ross Farlow replaces former president Vince Castle after the veteran grower retired from his administrative role late last month.
Paying tribute to Mr Castle for his "tremendous contribution" over the past 60 years, Mr Farlow said he was looking forward to providing continuity and following on from the good work Mr Castle had done over the years in representing growers.
"Vince's dedication, his integrity and his willingness to help wher- ever he could has earned him a lot of respect within the industry," he said.
Mr Farlow brings a wealth of personal and professional experi- ence to his new position to CRCA, having been employed in a variety of roles in the sugar industry throughout his career, and he will continue to manage the family farm at Maclean.