Tony Bartolo
Tony Bartolo

Grower leader positive about sugar industry’s future

IT HAS been a stop-start beginning with rain initially delaying operations, but Rosella cane grower Tony Bartolo is pleased this season’s cane harvest is now under way.

A Racecourse Mill supplier and Sugar Terminals Limited director, Mr Bartolo is positive about the future of the sugar industry in the Mackay region.

He believes the Nordzucker investment in Mackay Sugar will address the issue of crushing capacity so that growers can crush their cane in a reasonable time.

A qualified accountant, Mr Bartolo decided to leave public practice to take up farming in 2013 and is a third generation grower on the home farm where he was born.

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Mr Bartolo is one of the first alumni of nine growers throughout the state who graduated last year from Sugar Research Australia’s Next Crop, a professional and personal development program aimed specifically at cane growers.

SRA’s five-year strategic plan identified developing future sugar industry leadership as a priority, particularly as the industry faces headwinds such as low sugar prices.

The program conducted by Pragmatic Thinking in Brisbane is designed to create a network of confident and committed future sugar industry leaders.

At the outset, the program took the growers to several locations designed to take them away from their farms and out of their comfort zones.

It looks closely at the psychology of leadership in a detailed way.

The participants were inspired in their leadership journeys by guest speakers Peter Baines, who established the Australian charity Hands Across the Water in 2005 after the Boxing Day tsunami, and three times Australian Paralympic gold medallist and two times Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Kurt Fearnley.

The participants were asked to form groups to undertake a project on an important issue they saw facing the sugar industry.

Mr Bartolo’s group decided to tackle the issue of the new Great Barrier Reef regulations.

As part of their research they talked to government departments and representative organisations and examined the various accredited Best Management Practice programs to achieve change.

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