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Autumn 2015

What Happens When There’s No Land Left?

“The loss of so much cane land has put pressure on the Sugar cane industry in Mackay but the local mill is using a range of measures to get thousands more hectares planted to cane”, according to Steve Emmert, branch manager for Vanderfield in Mackay. Largely brought about by the mining expansion in the region and the need for accommodation has seen new housing subdivisions spring up where once cane fields flourished.

Looking for development opportunities and the most efficient measures possible to plant more cane has become a mission for Mackay Sugar. Adopting innovative strategies to bring about significant gains for their shareholders, David Armstrong of Mackay Sugar has the challenge ahead of him to develop 5,000 hectares before 2017.

“We are trying to promote the leasing in or out of land amongst growers, but leasing is not widespread in the Mackay region. We would also like to see land being bought that can be developed to cane, preferably by our growers as they increase the scale of their operations”, David related.

In a recent Landline story, Quinton Hilderbrand, CEO of Mackay Sugar said, “In 2013 we secured a deal with an American commodity trader – Cargill. Now we have a partnership with its’ subsidiary – Black River Asset Management to buy and develop local cane farms. They operate a massive diversified agricultural portfolio in other parts of Australia so it’s not something new for them.

We are also working on bringing in other investment partners for similar deals. However there is still a place for family farms which will always be the mainstay for the Mackay Sugar supply area”.

Part of the efficiency strategies Black River has implemented is running a large fleet of John Deere equipment to increase productivity and to embrace the most up-to-date advances in technology on the market.

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