Sweetener is sought
PAT Battersby knows it's a big ask, but the Clarence Cane Growers Association manager is hoping the sugar industry's call for financial assistance with replanting will find government support.
This week representatives of the NSW sugar industry met Federal Nationals leader Warren Truss, Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce and other senior Nationals seeking their support for a special grant for sugar growers to replant crops damaged by ongoing wet conditions from September to January.
Mr Battersby said that during the planting season the soil was too wet for many farmers to get their crops in the ground and for others to ratoon harvested crops.
He said growers in Queensland had calculated the cost of replanting at about $1800 a hectare and NSW growers were asking for a three-way split, with the Federal Government providing $600, the NSW Government $600 and growers $600 for each hectare of cane to be replanted.
About 6000 hectares needs to be replanted in NSW alone, he said.
“That is about double the normal planting,” he said.
“In the Clarence Valley we only planted about 25% of what was intended to be planted.”
He said the NSW industry had “gone it alone” with its request to the National Party for help.
But he said Clarence canegrowers recognised it would be a difficult argument. If the sugar industry was successful in its application, other primary industry bodies on the eastern seaboard would feel they should be entitled to the same deal.
Another issue was that in NSW primary producers were entitled to a maximum of $15,000 in Natural Disaster Relief Arrangement payments while in other states it was $25,000.
Mr Battersby said the NSW industry was approaching the State Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson for her help in getting the anomaly addressed.