8 October 2020

We all want to charge off to a better place but sometimes you have to wind back the clock, re-set and then once you have built strong foundations go forward and make the future your own.

This is what AgForce's Cane Board has done with its policy platform. It is seeking in the first instance to take a step backward by asking the next State Government to revoke the ridiculous, ineffective greenie-inspired Reef and vegetation management laws and regulations, which if not removed will destroy farmers, industries and communities.” Economic analysis shows us that a 30% reduction in nitrogen application is expected to result in an approximate decrease of 2,303,269 tonnes of cane crushed per year, a 7.6% reduction in Queensland’s total cane crop which in turn would reduce sugarcane industry revenues by an estimated $125.1 million with farmers losing $88 million and mills $37 million and the total impact on the economy in excess of a staggering $100 million” said Manager at AgForce Cane, Michael Kern. “But worse than that, these losses will translate into lost jobs. It is estimated that the reduced exports would cost around 600 full-time jobs not to mention the impact on farms, the local communities they support and jobs at the local school café, supermarket, school and hospital.

Just as importantly, AgForce's Cane Board wants to ensure future laws do not also fall victim to political ideologies by seeking to have an independent Office of Science Quality Assurance established at State level. “Independence and the checking of the science will be central to the success and effectiveness of any such Institute set up”, said AgForce's Cane Board’s President Ricky Mio. “it is well documented that around 50% of research finding cannot be replicated.”

AgForce's Cane Board also seeks to replace the current laws with sound and responsible farm management practices and is calling for an incentive program to be implemented to encourage practice accreditation for sugarcane farming.

Another critical element in our policy positioning is a call for more funding to be spent on farm research with an ask of $10M to be established to provide such seed funding.

This funding would be used by industry researchers and Queensland universities to identify and commercialise step changes in farming practices and that look at alternate crops and also alternate uses of the sugarcane. Diversity can be achieved in many ways.

AgForce's Cane Board also wants the next Queensland Government to invest in the future of farming by expanding the agricultural TAFE courses offered at Toowoomba to other locations including Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, and Maryborough.

“We see the need for expanding skilling opportunities as vital for the future of agriculture generally and sugarcane farming specifically,” said Mr Mio

“The final pillar of our policy asks is plea to the next Government to focus on encouraging the next generation of farmers. In this regard we want the Queensland Government to ramp up existing programs and create a First Farm Owner incentive scheme. Additionally, we want the Government to provide support to young farmers through such initiatives as stamp duty concessions on farm and machinery purchases or transfers to encourage investment, cash grants of $75,000 for new farmers who buy their first farm or invest in a substantial portion of the family farm; and no interest loan terms to enable young farmers to establish their operations.”

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