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JOINT SUBMISSION TO THE HILDEBRAND ASSESSMENT OF THE SUGAR INDUSTRY ... Independent Assessment of the Sugar Industry. GPO Box 858. BARTON A.C.T. 2601. Dear Clive, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • Herbert, Burdekin Plane Creek CANEGROWERS
  • CSR Sugar.

Mr Clive Hildebrand Independent Assessment of the
Sugar Industry GPO Box 858 BARTON A.C.T.
2601 Dear Clive, CSR and the Canegrowers of the
Herbert, Burdekin and Plane Creek regions are
pleased to make the following joint submission to
your Independent Assessment of the Sugar
Industry. This submission is not confidential and
may be published on the web site. Yours
Alf Cristaudo Chairman, CANEGROWERS - Herbert
Ian McMaster CEO, CSR Sugar
Brian Stevens Chairman, CANEGROWERS Plane Creek
George Nielson Chairman, CANEGROWERS - Burdekin
Table of Contents
Executive Summary 4 Summary of Key
Recommendations 5 Our Regions 6
Economics of Our Regions 7 Sugar the
Environment 8 Brazil Has Changed the
Market 9 Achieving Economies of
Size 10 Our Industry is Responding 11 Getting
from Target Setting to Target
Getting 12 Cane Productivity Initiative Cane
Volume 13 RD Vital Component of a Vital
Industry 14 Surviving the Short
Term 15 Innovation is Key to our Long Term
Success 16 Conclusion 17 Appendices
Executive Summary
This submission has been designed to provide an
overview of the current issues and challenges
facing the Herbert, Burdekin and Plane Creek
sugar industry regions. This submission has been
prepared jointly by CSR Sugar and CANEGROWERS
organisations representing the Herbert Burdekin
and Plane Creek Regions. We believe that our
industry can recover from the current downturn
and face the significant challenges of the world
raw sugar market, that have resulted primarily
from Brazils expansion. In world terms we are a
low cost producer of raw sugar. As a regional
industry group, we are working hard together
(Growers, CSR, Harvesters and RD providers) to
find the solutions as to how we can respond to
the competitive market pressures that we need to
meet. We believe that through the continued
improvement of industry management practices,
focusing on continuing innovation both in the
paddock and in mill, an in the longer term value
adding, we will remain a sustainable and vital
part of the Australian and Queensland
economy. Over the past four(4) years our regions
have seen an unprecedented series of poor
climatic conditions, disease and pests
(predominantly orange rust, rats and canegrubs)
which have devastated crop yields. Couple this
series of events with historically low sugar
prices and the result is an industry with a
reduced capacity to respond to the extremely
difficult environment we now face. Critical to
realising the vision we have for the future of
this industry, will be our regions ability to
survive the transition and we believe government
assistance will be necessary. This document
provides an overview of the issues and the
pathway forward as we jointly see them.
We acknowledge the responsibility our industry
has to conduct its business in such a way that it
enhances environmental outcomes. Our location on
land adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef is
recognised.   The Sugar Industry has established
a culture of continuous environmental
improvement and performance
Summary of Key Recommendations
  • Government provides financial assistance to
    identify and implement more productive management
    practices (eg. 8 Productivity Coordinators for 4
  • Government to further assist with RD funding
    during periods of low prices so that the brain
    drain to overseas syndrome does not occur in our
    industry and we can continue with medium to
    longer term RD.
  • Federal assistance with local Government funding
    so that further increases in rates do not occur
    (sugar industry is largest rate payer) during low
    sugar price periods
  • Review the criteria for access to AAA Farm Help
  • Restructuring assistance allowing some
    enterprises to exit the industry but for the cane
    land to remain in production
  • Government takes on some of the industry risk and
    allows for reduced water charges during periods
    of low sugar price
  • Extend the time deadlines for access to existing
    SIIP funding to complete Herbert Drainage works
  • Haulout trucks should receive the full diesel
    rebate when travelling on-road as well as

Our Regions
  • Direct
  • Cane Growers
  • CSR Sugar Ltd Mills
  • Townsville, Mackay Lucinda Port
  • Industry Organisations (BSES,CANEGROWERS, CPPB
  • Road Rail Transport
  • Harvesters Haulout Contractors
  • Fieldworkers
  • Cane Testers
  • Indirectly
  • Fuel distribution
  • Machinery Manufacturers Servicing
  • Airlines
  • Motor Vehicle Hire
  • Irrigation equipment Manufacturers
  • Fertiliser and Chemical Distributors

Sugar has been the key activity in our region for
over 100 years and still remains the dominant
industry for our region providing direct
employment for over 4500 people and indirectly
thousands more.
CSR Sugar comprises seven mills in three regions
in north eastern Queensland. CSR Sugar together
with cane growers from the regions account for
over 40 of Queensland sugar production, with
Queensland accounting for 95 of total Australian
The climate of our regions and their rich
alluvial soils, put them amongst the best sugar
cane growing areas in the world. The harvesting
season commences each year in early June and
concludes mid to late November. In the past 7
years, the three regions have processed on
average about 14 million1 tonnes of cane,
producing about 2 million tonnes of sugar and
400,000 tonnes of molasses each year.
Add to this a long history of commitment to cost
effective continuous improvement and innovation
our regions rank amongst the lowest cost
producers of raw sugar globally. The industry
has made significant expansion investments within
the last decade. CSR Mills have invested over
400m and Burdekin growers have made significant
investments purchasing the governments BRIA cane
areas, off government. In the Herbert, growers
also made significant investment to take up
growth opportunities  
1 Appendix 1 Cane and Sugar production since 1996
Economics of Our Regions
Production of raw sugar is one of Australias
most important rural industries. It accounts for
over 3 of the gross value of farm output.
Directly and indirectly, sugar contributes over
4 billion to the economy each year. Raw sugar
production underpins the economic and social
stability of many communities in the state of
Queensland which produces 95 of Australias
sugar. The industry is particularly important to
our regions of the Herbert, Burdekin and Plane
Creek, where sugar is the standout dominant
economic activity (gt90) and where no ready
alternate industry is available.
For every dollar earned by the industry, output
worth a further 3 is generated in other sectors
of the economy.
Sugar the Environment
  • Other Active Programmes
  • Landcare (all regions)
  • Lower Burdekin Initiative A partnership between
    industry and science to address current and
    future water needs of the Lower Burdekin
  • Master Land Water Management Plan (MLWMP) A
    best practice guide for drainage and land
    management in the Herbert Region recognising
    environmental constraints at the planning and
    development approval stage with respect to cane
    growing on new land
  • Sarina Landcare Catchment Management
    Association.. The Sarina Catchment area is an
    economically viable region which is ecologically
    sustainable and well regarded as a healthy place
    to live and work.
  • Burdekin Riparian Rehabilitation project
    Targeting planting 100,000 trees in the region.
  • (Refer Appendices for details on initiatives)

Our regions are located close to the coast and in
the catchment of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon,
which means that our environmental performance
must be world class. Best practice farming and
best environmental practice are not mutually
exclusive. The sugar industry has long
associated sustainable farming with good
environment management, as evidenced by as far
back as 1965, when water boards were established
in the Burdekin region to manage the long term
health and sustainability of the aquifer in the
delta. More recently, a code of practice for
Sustainable Cane Growing in Queensland (1998) was
developed to act as a guide for canegrowers to
attain the balance between farming and the
environment to ensure sustainability. This has
now been further enhanced by the release of the
COMPASS (COMbining Profitability And
Sustainability in Sugar) programme that was
developed in conjunction with the Queensland EPA
and RWUEI (Rural Water Usage Efficiency
Initiative). The COMPASS programme provides an
assessment process for evaluating farm
performance with respect to environmental best
practice. Some of the areas the programme covers
include nutrition, soil health, irrigation,
creek vegetation and drainage. Each of the mills
in our regions have also been working
consistently at reducing their impact on the
environment. Over the past 10 years significant
investment has been made into reducing emissions,
waste water treatment and other environment
compliance issues. Mills have also invested
significantly into Cogeneration, generating
electricity from bagasse used to fire the mill
boilers. Around 30MWe is continually exported
during the crushing season at present and plans
are well advanced for another 50MW export with
Stanwell Corporation. Some investigations are
underway for the production of fuel ethanol.
These projects have the potential for significant
reductions in Australias greenhouse gas
Brazil Has Changed the Market
The past 10 years has seen a significant shift in
the world export market with Brazil taking a
dominant position. With Australia relying on the
export market for 85 of its production and
domestic sales priced on the basis of export
parity, we are completely exposed to the world
market for 100 of our production and therefore
Australia has to compete one for one with Brazil.
Brazil has significant advantages over Australia
mainly driven through economies of size, lower
labour unit costs and lower capital costs, as
well as a large domestic market and an ethanol
industry backed by mandated blending
arrangements. The global Market for sugar has
many corruptions to free trade (esp.EEC, US) in
spite of the WTO initiatives by Australia to
liberalize trade in agriculture. We recognise
that the industrys long term sustainability in
Australia can only be assured by finding ways to
allows us to compete against the benchmarks that
have been established and will continue to be
established by the Brazilians. The graph below
shows the dramatic growth in Brazilian sugar
exports over the last decade. Australia exports
around 4mt of sugar.
  • Some Facts
  • Brazils annual increased production in 99 and
    2000 was equivalent to Australias total
    production in each year
  • Australian cash costs FOB are about 10 higher
    than typical Brazilian costs
  • Land prices in Brazil are 60 lower
  • There is no shortage of land for further
    expansion of the Brazilian industry
  • Capital invested in Mill assets is about 50 that
    of Australian Investment on a per tonne basis
  • Every dollar invested in Brazil generates 50
    more revenue than Australia

BRAZIL 1985 -2003
Export trend
Achieving Economies of Size
One of the more difficult issues that the sugar
industry needs to grapple with is how we achieve
economies of size for the large number of smaller
farm holdings. Whilst capital investment is
generating only half the revenue in Australia to
our Brazilian counterparts, it is evident that we
must find ways to drive our invested capital
harder. Australian cane farms are mainly family
owned and operated businesses. The average size
of farms is around 75 hectares, but increasing.
Although cane farms are now 50 per cent larger on
average then they were in 1980, with the
sustained low world sugar price projection, the
average farm still will struggle to achieve
economies of size. Farms in Brazil can be up to
60,000 ha as part of a fully vertically
integrated operation, inclusive of harvesting,
milling,distilling and refining. The largest
farms in Australia are around 1,200 ha. An
increase in the economic unit for the farm
sector, would allow it to gain efficiencies and
enhance the ability of the sector to implement
more productive farm management practices. The
challenge we face is to find mechanisms to create
this economic unit, so as to realise the
economies of size without increasing the level of
individual debt. In the current climate of low
world sugar price, the ability for farmers to
increase debt loads is minimal, therefore
opportunities to improve capital utilisation
through cooperative means may be a way
forward. Sustained low returns will reduce the
ability of the farming sector to invest in the
their land, plant and equipment. As a consequence
of this productivity and hence profitability will
further be impacted for the industry as a whole.
If sustained, there will be a flow on effect to
the milling sector resulting in a need for mills
also to reduce investment, creating a downward
cycle in the industry. These issues can be
addressed if we act early and proactively to
develop mechanisms that allow for an acceleration
of the process of increasing farm size or provide
mechanisms whereby the efficiency gains can be
captured whilst maintaining current structures.
Adoption of improved farming techniques and
access to the efficiencies and economies of size
are integral to the response our industry needs
to make in the face of changes on the world scene
.Capital investment is generating only half the
revenue in Australia to our Brazilian
The challenge we face is to find mechanisms to
realise the economies of size without increasing
the level of individual debt.
Our Industry Is Responding
In June 2001 CSR undertook an assessment of the
value available, if the industry is able to
implement more productive management practices
across all sectors. Significant potential value
was identified in each step of the value chain in
the areas of grower productivity, harvesting,
mill performance and research extension, if we
were to take a whole of industry improvement
approach. Our natural resource base (land, water,
sunshine, climate) are such that we can be
worlds best. In October 2001 CSR and Canegrowers
from the Herbert, Burdekin and Plane Creek
Regions joined together in a co-operative
programme to identify, plan and implement changes
to try to capture the potential value identified.
We engaged McKinsey Consultants to facilitate
this process we named the Cane Productivity
  • Cane and Sugar Volume
  • 20t cane/ha
  • 0.75 CCS
  • Processing Efficiency
  • Increased Mill availability
  • 1 Sugar Recovery

Getting from Target Setting to Target Getting
The Cane Productivity Initiative has forced us to
look at our structure as to how best to achieve
the changes necessary for long term
sustainability. To this end we have formed a
Regional Industry Board (RIB) in each of our
regions. The purpose of this RIB is to ensure
the long term sustainability of our industry by
ensuring that the issues facing us are solved.
The RIBs have only just been formed and
initially have been charged with the goal of
taking forward the work of the Cane Productivity
Initiative as it applies to their region. Below
is the draft structure designed as part of the
Herbert RIB Mission The Herbert Regional Industry
Board (HRIB) will play a pivotal role as the
coordinating and strategic planning body for the
local industry, to strive for a economic,
environmental and socially sustainable sugar
industry. The Board will ensure that each sector
of the local industry (growing, milling,
harvesting) and the overall integration of
operations are focused on significantly improving
industry viability as a whole. (Refer appendix
for Regional Industry Board Missions)
for the dissemination of best practice. Integral
to the success of this structure will be the
formation of productivity groups involving 15-20
growers led by a Productivity Coordinator.
Funding assistance is sought for these
coordinators so that we can achieve a lower cost
platform through the dissemination of more
productive faming methods
Cane Productivity Initiative - Cane Volume
One of the key issues that we have been
addressing is that of Cane Volume. Increasing
cane volume with our existing capital base is
integral in improving industry returns. Growers
and CSR have targeted a 20 increase in mean cane
productivity over a four year period. Given that
average yields have trended flat over the last
decade, it is not a small target, but we are
confident that the task is achievable. The chart
below shows cane yield in tonnes per hectare
versus farm size for the Burdekin region in 2000.
The mean yield for the region was a little over
100 tonnes per hectare, but the spread was
between 50 and 150. When the cause of the spread
was analysed in detail, in excess of 80 of the
variance was found to be due to farm management
practices rather than intrinsic factors such as
soil type and microclimatic variability. Similar
outcomes have been found in each of our regions,
giving a degree of confidence that if we can
promulgate improved farm management practices,
the targets we have set are achievable.
The Herbert and Plane Creek region have seen
exceptional circumstances arising from a pattern
of adverse weather and disease. As a result, over
the past 4 years both regions have seen their
yields drop by about 50. The pattern of
variation of tonnes per hectare vs farm size
however, still shows through the data. The
challenge is to find and implement farm
management practices that will lessen the impact
of future adverse seasons.
Another of the key issues related to improving
cane volume centred around cane loss as a result
of feed train and chopper setup on harvesters.
Researchers claim that up to 8 is lost due to
not optimising these elements of the
harvester. This an example of where recent
research has been performed but has not been
translated to industry results in our regions as
local trials had not yet been carried out. High
on the priority lists for the Regional Industry
Boards is conducting trials and disseminating the
results to the farmers/harvesters in each region
and the subsequent rapid adoption of best
Tonnes Cane per Ha
Farm Size (Ha)
RD Vital component of a Vital Industry
We recognise that a healthy RD sector is vital
in achieving a competitive advantage for our
industry. Whilst in the first instance our focus
is on delivering the results in field from
existing work, we also understand that it is new
ideas that will keep our industry moving ahead
long term. Below is a draft of the regional
focus for RD over the next 12 months which will
be reviewed by each of the Regional Industry
Boards. A focus on value adding in our industry
must also be central to solving the longer term
issues of our sustainability. The development of
new and existing products will underpin our
future competitiveness.
  • Products Derived from Sugar Cane
  • Molasses
  • Stock Feeds
  • Ethanol
  • Power (Cogeneration)

Surviving the Short Term our immediate focus
  • Over the past four(4) years our regions have seen
    an unprecedented series of poor climatic
    conditions, disease, cane grubs, devastated crop
    yields and historically low sugar prices that
    have compounded and reduced our regions ability
    to respond to whole of industry issues with the
    pace required.
  • The cash reserves of all industry participants
    have been depleted in recent years. The failure
    of the Q124 cane variety succumbing to a disease
    called Orange Rust reduced cane volumes
    significantly in all our regions. To recover
    from a failure of this magnitude for instance in
    the Herbert region where Q124 made up about 80
    of the crop and resulted in a yield drop of close
    to 50, will take a number of years for growers
    to rotate out of the variety.
  • Couple this failure with historic low world sugar
    prices and the result is a drop in annual revenue
    in our regions of approximately 300M. Key to
    accessing the future vision we have for this
    industry in our regions is being able to survive
    this short term series of events and build the
    confidence in the industry participants to
    reinvest in the industry and adopt more
    productive practices.
  • The current outlook for world sugar price has not
    been encouraging with a recent excursion down to
    US 5 c/lb. With the world sugar price that low
    we dont believe any player in the world scene is
    generating sustainable returns. However, other
    countries have various support mechanisms to see
    their sugar industries through these periods.
  • While we are committed as an industry group to
    implement the findings from the Cane Productivity
    Initiative and to move forward in identifying
    other issues to improve our competitiveness, it
    is evident that some transition assistance may be
    required. Government support in facilitating the
    RD outcomes detailed earlier for the industry
  • funding for resources to enhance the adoption of
    more productive and profitable industry practices
  • provision of mechanisms to facilitate
    restructuring and even direct financial support
    whilst we as an industry adjust our cost
    competitiveness may be deemed appropriate.
  • In the end however, it will be up to us to get
    ourselves into a competitive position. We have
    the natural assets and believe we have made a
    good start at shaping a positive future.

Cane Grubs It is estimated that over 400,000
tonnes of cane were lost last year to damage
caused by this pest in our regions, damage valued
in excess of 20 million.
Sugar Price 1940 -2002
Innovation is key to our Long Term Success
  • Industry RDE capacity will rapidly decline over
    the next 12 months due to the following
    compounding factors
  • The end of the CP 2002 RDE program in June 2002
    (worth 13.46 m over the previous three years)
  • The expiry of CRC Sugar in June 2003 ( 17.73m
    over 8 years, direct funding from CRC Program).
  • The volatility of the sugar price impacts
    directly on Sugar Research and Development
    Corporation revenue with a percentage of gross
    cane value affecting both industry funding and
    matching commonwealth funding.
  • The recent small crop size has already caused a
    severe reduction in revenue for both BSES and
    Cane Protection and Productivity Boards as
    funding is generally based on voluntary levies
    per tonne of cane.

Innovation through RDE has been identified as a
key driver of future sustainability. It is an
area where Government support can assist the
development of a more robust Industry. The
industry requires the assistance of Government
through a transition period to enable it to put
the required structures in place. The effects of
the past few years of poor industry performance
and concluding government sponsored programmes
are leading to a loss of intellectual capacity in
the industry when product diversification and
differentiation is most needed. This is
particularly relevant for strategic RD such as
biotechnology, which is currently severely
constrained by lack of industry funding. The
proposed new CRC is focussed on this area and is
vital to the fostering of innovative products and
a shift away from a commodity based industry. The
Cane Productivity Initiative has recognised that
the capacity to rapidly adopt proven RD findings
and Industry Best Practice, needs to be
restructured in order to prosper. As a result of
our intensive six month analysis, the conclusion
was that to facilitate the adoption of RD and
Best Management Practices will require the
appointment and resourcing of Productivity Group
Coordinators in each region to drive this process
forward. In a time of declining funding,
Government support will be required to assist the
industry in building capability to support itself
into the future. Without funding, resources will
have to be diverted from longer term RD projects
which will have an adverse effect on future
industry prosperity.
  • CSR and the canegrowers representatives from the
    Burdekin, Herbert and Plane Creek regions have
    assessed the threats, analysed the weaknesses,
    identified the strengths and found some
    opportunities for our regions to move forward.
    The operation of the Regional Industry Boards and
    the proactive manner in which they were formed
    herald an exciting long term future for our
  • Making the transition is recognised by all of us
    as a significant challenge in the short term due
    to our weakened capacity. A recent history of
    inclement weather, low world prices and agronomic
    factors has resulted in a short term lack of
    confidence in the industry. Critical support
    from government, particularly in the short term,
    will provide our regions the ability to rebuild
    capacity. Areas requiring specific support are
  • Funding for the 8 productivity coordinators to
    drive continual improvement in farming best
  • RD Funding targeted to the needs as identified
    by the RIBS
  • Innovation in areas such as local government
    funding and efficiency to ensure that gains made
    by the industry absorbed by increases in rates
    and charges (refer appendix)
  • Restructuring support mechanisms for all sectors
    of the industry
  • Direct financial support where appropriate
    (refer Appendix)
  • The sugar industry has been a remarkable success
    story in the development of the Queensland coast
    and has significantly contributed to the
    Australian economy for the past 140 years. We
    have a sound environmental track record and a
    commitment to continuous improvement and with the
    work that we are undertaking we will emerge from
    this era as an extremely significant Australian
    asset once again.

a sound environmental track record and a
commitment to continuous improvement
  • Burdekin Regional Industry Board Mission
  • Herbert Regional Industry Board Mission
  • Cane Volume and Sugar Revenue 1996 2001
  • North Burdekin Water Board
  • BRIA Burdekin River Irrigation Area
  • Herbert Master Land and Water Management Plan
  • Economic Hardship
  • Formation of the Lower Herbert Water Management
  • Great Southern Railway EIS
  • Greyback Cane Grub
  • Herbert Resource Information Centre
  • Shire Rates
  • A practical Guide to Native Vegetation Management
  • The Lower Burdekin Initiative
  • Australian Rainfall Variability Map
  • Payards Lagoon
  • Burdekin Riparian Rehabilitation Project
  • Townsville Local Marine Advisory Committee
  • Soil Mapping

Burdekin Regional Industry Board Mission
  • We the Burdekin Regional Industry Board,
    representing our sugar industry, join in a
    commitment to strive for a profitable and
    sustainable sugar industry, which underpins the
    long-term financial prosperity of our community.
    We will
  • Seek to put sugar industry sustainability above
    all else
  • Bring together all of the stakeholders in our
    industry to plan for its long term future, set
    targets and milestones, and measure progress
    against our previously agreed plans
  • Provide our RD providers with clear directions
    and priorities, which have the greatest
    probability of enhancing our industrys future
  • Provide a forum for debate and timely resolution
    of structures and practices that inhibit world
    class performance in any aspect of our business
    and seek to share gains fairly and equitably
  • Seek to align our community at all levels in the
    future direction of our industry
  • Ensure that knowledge of industry best practices
    is made available to all industry participants
  • Continue to be environmentally sustainable
  • Our immediate goal is an urgent yet sustainable
    improvement in the production chain.

Click Here For Appendices list
Herbert Regional Industry Board Mission
The Herbert Regional Industry Board (HRIB) will
play a pivotal role as the coordinating and
strategic planning body for the local industry,
to strive for a economic, environmental and
socially sustainable sugar industry. The Board
will ensure that each sector of the local
industry (growing, milling, harvesting) and the
overall integration of operations are focused on
significantly improving industry viability as a
Click Here For Appendices list
Cane Volume and Sugar Revenue
Million Tonnes of Cane
Click Here For Appendices list
North Burdekin Water Board
  • The North Burdekin Water Board was formed in 1965
    to artificially replenish the Burdekin delta
    groundwater resource underlying the then assigned
    areas of Kalamia and Pioneer sugar mills.
  • At the time, the concept of recharge on the scale
    envisaged was unique in Australia as was the
    self-funding and local management aspects of the
    proposal. Today the Board remains an autonomous
    statutory groundwater resource management
    authority, responsible for the economic and
    environmentally sustainable management of the
    groundwater resource within the Boards
    proclaimed area.
  • The Board operates on a user-pays cost recovery
    basis spending some 3 million dollars annually
    to replenish and manage the aquifer. Revenue is
    derived from the sugar industry, by way of area
    rate approximately on the basis contributions of
    2/3 growers, 1/3 miller.
  • The success of the Boards operation over the
    past 36 years can be gauged by consideration of
    the following statistics.
  • In 1965 the Board took control of an aquifer in
    severe danger of wholesale degradation. At that
    time, the area was producing 908,000 tonnes of
    cane off 11,700 hectares. Today we have a
    relatively healthy aquifer and in recent times
    the area has produced 2.67 million tonnes of cane
    off 22,500 hectares. Ground water levels and
    quality are closely monitored.
  • In short, the supplemented aquifer now has the
    demonstrated potential to service double the area
    with adequate water, yielding a three-fold
    increase in production. In general terms, the
    mechanisms that the Board employs to ensure the
    sustainability of the aquifer are as follows 
  • Direct recharge of the aquifer through
    artificially constructed soakage pits, where
    water pumped from the river is diverted into
    these pits and percolates into the aquifer.
  • Recharge through the bed and banks of natural
    watercourses, which form a large part of the
    Boards distribution system
  • Direct supply of water to irrigators, thereby
    conserving groundwater and lessening the need for
    artificial replenishment.

Click Here For Appendices list
BRIA Burdekin River Irrigation Area
  • The Commonwealth gave a grant to Queensland to
    construct the Burdekin dam. It is inappropriate
    for the State to charge a return on investment on
    these funds.
  • It is not appropriate for the State to charge a
    rate of return on the BRIA scheme as 150 million
    out of the300 million of State funds applied
    were recouped in land water sales. The
    remaining 150m was financed by general taxation.
  • It is not appropriate to charge a rate of return
    on the BRIA because the capital asset represents
    sunk capital which has no opportunity cost. The
    price of water should equal the marginal cost of
    providing the water so that the maximum benefit
    of the scheme is obtained. The scheme is only
    half built with only 28,000 hectares of a
    projected 56,000 hectares under cultivation.
  • It is not appropriate to charge a rate of return
    on scheme assets where the capital cost
    attributed to those assets is a notional, not an
    actual cost. The BRIA scheme assets (both dam
    and distribution assets) have been re-valued on
    the basis of replacement cost and presented as
    the capital cost of the scheme on which a return
    should be sought.
  • Just as it is not appropriate to charge a rate of
    return for scheme assets where the cost of those
    assets is notional, so also it is not appropriate
    to charge a rate of return on scheme assets where
    the capital cost of those assets was inflated by
    inefficiency e.g. the use of above ground
    channels has been criticized as more costly, both
    in capital and maintenance terms.
  • All of the BRIAs sugar output is exported via
    Townsvilles port. A selective tax on an export
    industry is neither neutral nor equitable and
    will cause economic distortions. It is not
    appropriate to seek a return on scheme assets
    where to do so would render the project useless.
    Attempts to recover the costs of, or a rate of
    return on, a project are pointless if they ruin
    the community the project was meant to create
    will serve. BRIA is a half-built scheme - only
    28,000 out of 56,000 planned hectares are under
    cultivation. Given the price of sugar and the
    costs of irrigation there is no pent up demand
    for farms. What would it cost the State of
    Queensland if SunWater pricing policy led to the
    collapse of the BRIA with consequent loss of
    employment and output in Ayr, Home Hill and

BRIA Burdekin River Irrigation Area
  • It is not appropriate to charge a rate of return
    on scheme assets where there are social
    considerations, such as equity, which dictate
    otherwise. Many farmers in the BRIA are doing it
    tough. There is heavy reliance on bank credit
    after a run of low prices and an upturn may not
    come quickly. They have more than paid their
    fair share of taxes and charges, as well as
    contributions to the scheme. Many have disposed
    of off-farm assets to stay solvent.
  • Documentation given to bidders at the land and
    water sale auctions suggests that purchasers
    would only be charged for actual operating costs
    of the scheme, not for notional costs or for a
    rate of return.
  • It is not appropriate to charge a rate of return
    on scheme assets where those assets were created
    as a result of past government and Parliamentary
    social policies. The State government resumed
    private land to construct the scheme. Some
    farmers would have preferred to construct their
    own channels, others would have preferred a
    co-operative, user-funded and controlled water
    board to avoid gold-plating.
  • BRIA water managed by the government is very high
    cost (gt250) compared to water from both the
    South and North Burdekin water Boards (managed by
    the growers, miiller and council). The water
    Boards can operate their schemes and maintain the
    asset base (plus generate a cash surplus for
    expansion) at this lower cost.
  • It is quite obvious from what was shown to
    purchasers at auctions in the BRIA that prices
    were bid for farms on the basis that costs for
    irrigation water would only be based on actual
    operational costs of distribution.  
  • The BRIA predates COAG and NCP policy changes.
    It should therefore be dealt with on its own
    merits. A line in the sand approach is both
    permitted under COAG / NCP and is desirable.
  • For some 10 years BRIA irrigators have been
    paying some 3 million in excess of efficient
    operational expenditure, a further contribution
    of 30 million which should be credited towards

Click Here For Appendices list
Herbert Master Land and Water Management Plan
Click on picture to access full report
Drainage in the Herbert is a major issue with
both cane productivity and environmental
opportunities of significant magnitude. The
barrier to implementation of comprehensive works
to realise these opportunities has been the lack
of an comprehensive knowledge of the dynamics of
the Herbert catchment. Under the auspices of the
Sugar Industry Infrastructure Program (SIIP) this
deficiency has been addressed with the
development of the Herbert Master Land and Water
Management Plan and proposals for drainage works
which are described and evaluated from both a
cane productivity and environmental perspective
in the MLWMP and the report Recommendations to
Enhance Environmental Performance of Drainage
Works proposed in the Lower Herbert water
Management Scheme by Roth, Burrows, Butler,
Reghanzani and Post. The SIIP Program was
initiated in 1993 and under its direction a large
body of new knowledge has been created and
consultative networks to resolve the potential
conflicts between various industry and
environmental stakeholders have been effectively
established. The culmination of this effort is a
set of proposals for drainage works which when
implemented will result in significant
improvement to cane productivity, to the
environment, and to the way we manage both.
Because of time constraints on the availability
of government funding which was approved for the
completion of these works, there is the real
possibility that the program will be closed, that
the physical works will consequently not be
done, and that the work on planning and
evaluation will be fruitlessly lost. Relaxation
of the time constraints on funding is sought.
Links to relevant reports and photo files are
provided to the right.
Current Grower Practice
Click Here For Appendices list
Economic Hardship
  • Growers gross income fell 25 in 1999 and a
    further 10 in 2000. Growers with debt gt30 per
    tonne are incurring substantial losses at the
    current forecast price of 250 for 2002. Banks
    are reluctant to loan further funds at this
  • Farmers are generally ineligible for social
    security because of the value of their farm (the
    assets test). Farmers are expected to increase
    their borrowings or sell the farm if they do not
    generate enough income from cane growing.  the
    AAA Farm Help Program supplies income support for
    a maximum of one year and is subject to income
    and non farm assets tests. 
  • The AAA Agriculture Advancing Australia package
    was developed by the Federal Government with the
    aim of helping the rural sector to become more
    competitive, sustainable and profitable by
    focusing on four key objectives 
  • Helping farmers profit from change
  • Giving farmers access to an effective welfare
    safety net
  • Providing incentives for ongoing farm
    adjustment and
  • Encouraging social and economic development in
    rural areas.
  • The AAA offers a range of programs including Farm
    Help Supporting Families Through Change
    initiative which provides a proven, effective
    safety net for farm families experiencing
    financial difficulties.
  • Farm Help is an initiative which has been in
    place since 1997 and is subject to income and
    non-farm assets tests. The Income Support is
    paid for a maximum period of 12 months.

Whilst season 2001 was considerably better in
terms of price the poor crop resulted in few
growers actually being able to get on the right
side of the ledger.
Click Here For Appendices list
Economic Hardship Request for Changes to AAA
Farm Help
Unable to borrow against your assets To meet this
criteria, the farmers bank/institution must
complete an authority which states that the
bank/institution will not provide any further
finance to the farmer. Under the terms of the
program finance includes loans, extended
overdraft and advances. Request a relaxation of
the terms of the authority to only include loans
and specifically exclude extended overdraft and
advances.   Definition of Farmer The current
definition of Farmer states that a significant
part of their income is derived from the farm.
With the ongoing downturn in the sugar industry
farmers who derive income from other sectors of
the industry e.g. sugar cane harvesting, can be
precluded from applying even though they meet the
overall income and assets tests. Request a
relaxation in the interpretation of the
definition of farmer to take into account the
severe downturn in farm incomes.   Income Support
for 12 months Under the current guidelines,
income support is only available for a maximum
period of 12 months. A farmer who received
assistance two or three years ago is not eligible
to apply again. Request relaxation in the
guidelines to allow growers to reapply for Farm
Help and further request that the maximum period
for income support be extended to 24
months.   The changes proposed through the Cane
Productivity Initiative to current operations
will give farmers options to improve their
financial position within the current
restrictions of weather and low world sugar
prices. However as a matter of urgency, family
financial assistance through the AAA Farm Help is
needed to give farmers the opportunity and the
time needed to improve productivity and
profitability on their farm
Click Here For Appendices list
Formation of Lower Herbert Water Management Board
  One of the outcomes from the Sugar Industry
Infrastructure Package work currently in progress
will be the formation of a single water
management board under the Water Act (Qld)
effectively amalgamating four existing drainage
boards and providing the vehicle to tackle the
strategies contained in the MLWMP for the
Hinchinbrook Thuringowra shire areas involved
in cultivation of sugar cane.   Hinchinbrook
Shire Council is also promoting the extension of
the role of the Board to include land and water
management, with the land focus initially to be
on weed pest management but not necessarily
limited to that.   Subject to resource
availability there may be an opportunity to
achieve further environmental and productivity
gains by dealings in land to effectively swap
land in some key drainage areas that could have
higher environmental values with available land
elsewhere in the catchment.   Resources
available to the Board will be limited in the
first instance by the capacity of its
ratepayers.  If this was able to be supported by
other funding sources there is scope to make more
significant gains earlier than might otherwise be
possible. Environmental and hydrological values
of the area have been gathered as part of the
providing the vehicle to tackle the strategies
contained in the MLWMP for the Hinchinbrook
Thuringowra shire areas.
Click Here For Appendices list
SIIP Southern Cane Rail (SCR) Environmental
Impact Study
  • Completed Studies
  • Border, A., 1994 An assessment of Cultural
    Heritage Resources
  • CANEGROWERS PC and CSR PCM Ltd., 1993
    Infrastructure Package Submission for the
    Southern Cane Railway Project.
  • CMPSF, 1992. Land Use and Potential Benefits of
    Irrigation in the PCM Area.
  • Qld DPI(1995) An assessment of the potential for
    salinity from the SCR cane land development
  • Northern Archaeology Consultancies, 1993
    Cultural Heritage Study SCR Project.
  • PC Land Use Committee, 1994 SCR Project Impact
    Assessment Study P1 Railway Development.
  • PC Land Use Committee, 1994 SCR Project Broad
    Appraisal P2 Development and Management of
    New Cane lands.
  • Pollock, AB and Champion, IG., 1994 A brief
    survey of the Native Vegetation
  • In 1993, CANEGROWERS Plane Creek and CSR Plane
    Creek Central Mill Company Pty Ltd agreed to
    investigate, design and construct a cane railway
    extending from Koumala to Karloo the Southern
    Cane Railway. The project was funded by Plane
    Creek cane growers serviced by the new cane
    railway, CSR and SIIP.
  • The purpose of the project was to construct a
    44.02 km railway extending from Koumala to
    Karloo. The project aimed to-
  • Provide an efficient and cost effective sugar
    cane transportation system
  • Overcome the severe limitations of the Queensland
    Rail system and
  • Facilitate the expansion of the potential cane
    growing area. 
  • The Impact Assessment Study (IAS) and
    Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the
    Southern Cane Railway was subdivided into two
    separate, but related reports. Phase one of the
    Southern Cane Railway Project siting,
    construction and management of the railway and
    associated corridor. Phase Two of the project
    focused on the development of those new cane
    growing areas which may not have been developed
    without the construction of the Southern Cane
    Railway. Several studies were undertaken as part
    of the development of the Southern Cane Railway
  • The Environmental Management Plan (EMP) was
    developed by a local management group, the Plane
    Creek Land Use Committee. This Committee
    consisted of CANEGROWERS Plane Creek, CSR Plane
    Creek, QLD DPI,Qld Dept.of Environment and
    Heritage,Qld Dept. of Lands, BSES, Plane Creek
    CPPB, Broadsound Shire Council, Sarina Shire
    Council, Mackay Conservation Group and Carmila
    Landcare Group.

SIIP Southern Cane Rail (SCR) Environmental
Impact Study (cont.)
  •  In the development of this EMP, the Plane Creek
    Land Use Committees aim was to- 
  • Provide evidence of practical and achievable
    plans for the management of the Southern Cane
    Rail Project to ensure that environmental
    requirements are complied with, by producing a
    framework for comprehensive monitoring and
    control of impacts from the development and
    farming of cane lands
  • Provide Local, State and Commonwealth authorities
    with a framework to confirm compliance with their
    policies and requirements
  • Provide the community with evidence of the
    management of the project in an environmentally
    acceptable manner
  • Ensure that this project complies with all
    Government legislation including the
    Environmental Protection Act 1994 and
  • To promote the implementation of sugar industry
    best land management practices within the project
  • Under the terms of the government funding, an
    Impact Assessment Study was prepared. The
    assessment dealt specifically with Phase 2 of the
    Southern Cane Rail Project the development and
    management of cane lands associated with the rail
  • The assessment contained four sections 1.Descript
    ion of the Development and Proposal,
    2.Description of the Environment Affected by the
    Proposal, 3.Analysis of Potential Impacts of
    Proposal, 4.Environmental Safeguards.
  • For each individual impact a practical EMP was
    developed which provided a policy statement,
    performance requirements, monitoring and
    reporting procedures and corrective actions where
    performance requirements are not met. In each
    EMP responsibility for the actions required are
    allotted to relevant organisations.  
  • The EMP subsequently formed the basis for the
    approval process for cane land development in the
    Southern Cane Railway area. The EMP guidelines
    were adopted by the Plane Creek Local Board, the
    body responsible for approval of cane land
    development. Plane Creek was the first mill area
    to implement such a system. The requirement for
    environmental guidelines have since been included
    in the Sugar Industry Act of 2000 and each Cane
    Production Board (previously Local Board) in the
    State has adopted guidelines for the development
    of cane land.

EMP Elements 1 Contain development to suitable
lands 2 Erosion Mitigation 3
Salinity/Sodicity 4 Management of Protential
Acid Sulphate Soils 5 Flood Mitigation 6
Reduction of waterlogging 7 Coordinated Surface
Drainage 8 Management of Water Resources for
Irrigation 9 Management of Marine Wetlands 10
Riparian Vegetation 11 Retention of
Representative Areas 12 Control of Weeds and
Exotic Species 13 Management of Cultural
Heritage Resources 14 Fire Management 15
Information Transfer 16 Development Control
Click Here For Appendices list
Greyback Canegrub
The Greyback Canegrub is a native pest that has
regularly damaged sugarcane throughout North
Queensland since the 1870s. The organochlorine
insecticide BHC was successfully used to control
this pest up to its withdrawal in the 1980s due
to concerns over environmental and food chain
contamination. The greyback grub population has
increased since that time and has reached plague
proportions in some areas. World class research
and development through BSES, championed by
Burdekin growers, and largely coordinated with
strategic funding from the SRDC CP2002 Program
has lead to the development of a limited number
of management options although none of these are
effective on their own. Compounding the problem
has been the difficulty of engaging the interest
of the reducing number of agricultural chemical
producers and the fact that the research efforts
of the remaining players are being increasingly
drawn toward pharmaceuticals. The management
options currently available are suSCon Plus,
suSCon Blue, BioCane, and Confidor insecticides,
plus trap cropping, harvest and planting date,
tolerant varieties, and grass/weed control plus
reduced tilling. The key components underlined
(natural biological and chemical controls) have
either been registered in the last 12 months or
are about to be registered. Best outcomes will be
achieved when these strategies are implemented in
an Integrated Pest Management Plan. However, the
development and extension work is far from
complete and residual funding from the CP2002
Program will have to be directed at extension and
dissemination of the current knowledge to
affected growers while leaving several RD issues
unaddressed. The IPM strategy has very good
potential to enhance the triple bottom line of
ESD and to flow on to use against other white
grubs in the cane, banana and pineapple
industries. A funding mechanism for completion of
this work is needed.
  • Grub damage costs over 10M annually.More work
    needs to be done beyond CP2002
  • IPM strategies tailored to specific circumstances
    need to be developed
  • Decision aid and risk assessment tools need to be
    made user friendly
  • Biological control using Adelina shows promise
    but is incompletely understood
  • Knowledge of population dynamics and management
    need to be synthesised into predictive model and
    linked to economic impact spreadsheets.

Click Here For Appendices list
Herbert Resource Information Centre
  • Over half of the 19m economic benefit attributed
    to the HRIC has flowed to the wider community
    after 2 years of operation
  • Social benefit has been measured from improved
    access to data, planning and collaborative
    processes which have resulted in better informed
  • Environmental benefit has also resulted from
    better informed decisions and collaboration
    between JV partners and others with an interest
    in both land and water management issues

The Sugar Industry in Ingham has played a key
role in establishing a GIS Centre known as the
Herbert Resource Information Centre (HRIC). The
HRIC is a collaborative community GIS established
with 6 joint venture partners CSR Sugar-Herbert
river Mills Herbert Cane Protection and
Productivity Board Hinchinbrook Shire Council
CANEGROWERS- Herbert River District CSIRO
Division of Sustainable Ecosystems and
Queensland Department of Natural Resources and
Mines. The HRIC is recognised nationally and
internationally for its innovative collaboration.
The vision of the HRIC is tp be used by the JV
partners and the wider community to ensure the
ecological sustainable development of the Herbert
River Catchment. Numerous independent analyses of
the HRIC have been undertaken to quantify the
benefits provided and these have shown
significant economic, social and environmental
benefits directly attributable to the
Centre. The Centre provides easy access to
relevant and reliable geographic information for
integrated decision making. Relationships and
networks have been established that are conducive
to positive environmental, social and economic
outcomes. GIS data and assistance have been
provided to many organisations which otherwise
would have had to rely on subjective decision
making processes. The Centre has also played a
leading role in the development of satellite
imagery for crop forecasting with this
intellectual property being passed to the
industry where it is now being further developed
and increasingly used to direct competitive
advantage. The HRIC is a demonstration of the
initiative and capacity for innovation and
collaboration that exists within the Sugar
Industry. The Herbert is now leading Australia in
the spatial information industry. The HRIC is the
only collaborative GIS project in Australia that
has long term commitment from its partners, is
totally funded by local cash contributions and
provides for both partner and community benefits.
The Sugar Industry has from inception been a
strong champion of the HRIC and has contributed
70 of partner funding.
Click Here For Appendices list
Shire Rates
The Burdekin Council is increasing expenditure
dramatically to counter the sugar slumps effect
on the township. Burdekin growers pay 60 of the
Shire rates but they are no longer able to fund
the standard of living the community has become
accustomed to. A significant portion of the
remaining rates income comes from direct and
indirect sugar industry employment. The Burdekin
Council and the Sugar industrys financial future
are closely linked and the Council cannot operate
in a manner contrary to the industrys financial
position.   Cane growers pay a disproportionate
share of rates in relation to the amount of
services they receive from Council. Growers
have less access to services than urban
residents, with some growers not even having a
bitumen road to their farm. The charging of
rates based on land valuations is causing this
inequity in the Burdekin.   This is compounded
by the fact that the Burdekin Shire is rating
well above other Shires and Burdekin Shire fees
and charges are half the Queensland average
(Local Government Commissioner, 1997). If full
cost recovery is not met on Council services, the
revenue burden shifts onto ratepayers, mainly the
sugar industry as a whole. The Council argues
that cuts to State Federal government grants
have left them with no alternative but to put up
rates. It appears the Burdekin is disadvantaged
as funding is determined on gross industry
income. Due to irrigation costs, Burdekin gross
income is higher than other regions but net
industry income is not much higher.
Council is living beyond its means.   Council
expenses have increased 85. Sugar income has
fallen 11   Growers profitability is being
eroded   Rates per tonne of cane have increased
85. Grower rates are over now 1.00/ tonne of
cane.   Growers are forced to subsidise the rest
of the community   Residential rates per house
have increased 17 Commercial rates per shop have
increased 10 Cane land rates per farm have risen
Shire Rates (cont.)
C. Growers are forced to subsidise the rest of
the community Residential rates per house have
increased 17 Commercial rates per shop have
increased 10 Cane land rates per farm have risen
A. Council is living beyond its means   Council
expenses have increased 85. Sugar income has
fallen 11  
B. Growers profitability is being eroded Rates
per tonne of cane have increased 85. Grower
rates are over now 1.00 per tonne of cane.
Click Here For Appendices list
Native Vegetation Management
A copy of the guide will be forwarded separately.
Click Here For Appendices list
LBI - Lower Burdekin Initiative
Schematic showing interconnectedness of water
balance terms and key issues to be addressed when
assessing water resources and water management in
the lower Burdekin
CLICK ABOVE To access full report
Click Here For Appendices list
Australian Rainfall Variability
Click Here For Appendices list
Payards Lagoon
A pilot project at Payards Lagoon on Sheep
Station Creek in the Burdekin using an aquatic
weed harvester to remove weeds started on 2nd of
August 2002. Payards Lagoon was once over 5
metres deep in places and an important freshwater
fish habitat. Weed growth in the lagoon has been
occurring since the 1991 floods. As the weeds
died, they sank and the lagoon progressively
became shallower with adverse impacts on water
quality, fish, bird life and scenic values.The
weeds also set up an uncontrollable nutrient
recycling regime that could not be overcome by
spraying with herbicide. In a combined
initiative by the Burdekin community,
Canegrowers, the Burdekin Shire Council and the
State Government, a wetland weeds harvester has
removed the majority of the weeds from the lagoon.
Click Here For Appendices list
Burdekin Riparian Rehabilitation Project
  The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the
Burdekin Shire Council, Greening Australia and
Burdekin District CANEGROWERS have commenced a
project which involves bank stabilisation,
aquatic weed removal and the planting of 100 000
tress in the Burdekin Region during the next
twelve months.   This project will provide
training and jobs for approximately 20 people in
the Burdekin District and will also assist in the
continued protection of internationally
recognised wetlands.   Approximately 500 000 in
funding will be pumped into the economy of the
Burdekin Shire as a result of the project.   This
project is integrated with the National Action
Plan on Salinity and Water Quality and
compliments the Reef Task Force and the Reef
Protection Plan. The Reef Protection Plan will
recognise the CANEGROWERS Code of Practice as
being relevant and the key reference for
CANEGROWERS involvement.   The purpose of the
project is to pool the skills and resources of
the groups involved where appropriate, to
beneficially influence the long-term sustainable
management of natural resources within the
Burdekin region.
Click Here For Appendices list
Townsville Local Marine Advisory Committee
On Saturday October 20th the Townsville Local
Marine Advisory Committee departed Reef HQ at the
invitation of Burdekin Canegrowers, Inkerman Mill
Suppliers and the South Burdekin Water
Board.   The Group, which is one of eight
coastal, community based consultation committees
sponsored by GBRMPA, meets bi monthly to discuss
issues that may impact upon the marine park and
to provide feedback to the authority.   The trip
was a hands on opportunity, which enhanced the
knowledge of the committee members and gives them
the chance to see first hand the initiatives
being undertaken by the Burdekin growers said
Townsville LMAC Chair, Steve McGuire.   The day
was hosted by Mr. Bill Lowis (Manager- SBWB) with
assistance from Mr. Tom Callow (Canegrower and
Inkerman Mill Suppliers Committee member) Mr.
Phil Marano (Canegrower and Inkerman Mill
Suppliers Committee member) Mr Joe Linton
(Canegrower) Mr. Dale Holliss (Manager-
Canegrowers Burdekin District) Mr Jim Collins
(Manager Inkerman Mill Suppliers Committee)
Click Here For Appendices list
Soil Mapping in the Delta
Farmers in the Burdekin Delta area should
familarise thems