17 May 2022.

AgForce cane farmers are striving for a collective future, as long-serving industry go-getter Paul Schembri steps down as Canegrowers Chair.

While giving thanks to Paul’s 39 years of service, AgForce Cane Board President Ricky Mio can’t help but ponder what’s next for the industry.

“To make the right decisions for tomorrow we need to understand yesterday,” he said.

“During Paul’s time there were three pivotal moments where growers found themselves in a position to secure their future – cane land expansion, producer pricing mechanisms, and the Sugar Code of Conduct – and each one saved mills and jobs, created assurance of the future, and enforced rules.

“However, these would not have been possible without a combined effort.

“On all of these occasions, it was small groups of individual farmers and their respective representative groups that drove these crucial initiatives to become a reality and available to all.

“The industry is bigger than one person. It is a community of people who each individually make big sacrifices in their own way to contribute to making it work.

“The Sugar Code of Conduct, for instance, was the culmination of the Invicta, Pioneer and Kalamia grower groups which funded the relentless efforts of this remarkable feat.

“So, while we congratulate Paul for his years of service to the cane industry, which have come at the expense of great personal sacrifice, we must also acknowledge the monumental feats that have been achieved through and by the masses.”

Going forward, Mr Mio said it was imperative that the industry collaboratively builds on emerging opportunities to create a new era full of wealth and prosperity.

He said: “The cane industry belongs to everyone - it always has and it always will.

“No one knows the industry better than us, and if we strive hard the rewards will be endless.”