Maryborough sugar mill during cane crush.
Maryborough sugar mill during cane crush. Mat Nott

Sugar pill for dairy industry

DAIRY farmers from across Queensland who are finding the economic climate tough should consider planting sugarcane in the Maryborough-Hervey Bay region, a leading sugar industry executive has said.

Maryborough Sugar Factory general manager Stewart Norton said near-record prices for sugar and a softening of the market for dairy - milk in particular - meant a switch to cane made economic sense.

Queensland dairy farmers have lodged detailed information to the current Senate inquiry into milk prices.

They claim it proves that the national retail milk value chain has been devalued by $77 million in 2010-11 compared to the previous year.

The Coles-led $1 a litre milk discounting is cited as a principal cause of the industry shedding value.

The Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation has lodged a submission to the Senate Economics References Committee, ahead of the inquiry's reporting deadline which will be at the end of September.

"We will be speaking to more growers today," Mr Norton said.

"A draft of a sugar cane information pack has been done to help us promote the industry."

MSF is also about to launch an advertising campaign to promote to other agricultural sector players the advantages of switching to sugar cane.

While MSF looks to secure its long-term cane supply, crushing at the factory continues on schedule.

Yesterday, 463,000 tonnes of cane had been processed.

"As of last week, we had produced 60,000 tonnes of raw sugar," Mr Norton said.

"Two shipments of our sugar have gone out to Japan and the Bundaberg sugar terminal."

He said growers were hoping that the fine weather continued to permit them to get the planting done for next year's crop while finishing the harvest at the same time.

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