Sugar industry favours new research body

Cane growers and sugar millers voted in favour of the establishment of a new research organisation for the industry.

The new organisation will be called Sugar Research Australia (SRA) and will be an amalgamation of BSES, Sugar Research and Development Corporation, and Sugar Research Limited.

Industry members voted for the new research facility in a general meeting on Wednesday last week. According to CEO of Canegrowers Steve Greenwood, the facility got the vote of 89 per cent of growers and 100 per cent of millers.

He said legislation for the establishment of SRA is expected to be introduced to the Federal Parliament in May. If passed, the organisation would start in July.

SRA will take over the assets of BSES, the ABC reported.

BSES assets include a number of research facilities, and intellectual property from the research its scientists have done.

The organisation will be funded by growers and millers, who will have to pay a levy. It will receive further funding from the Commonwealth and Queensland governments.

“The initial levy will be 35 cents a tonne from growers and a matching 35 cents from millers. On a 30 million tonne crop, that’s about $21 million a year that will go into Sugar Research Australia,” Greenwood said.

 “On top of that the Federal Government will put in around $6 million and the Queensland Government will put in roughly $4 million. So all up we are looking at an organisation with a budget of $30-$35 million a year.”

The need for a new organisation came as the industry found they had an inefficient set up with three separate organisations.

“We had a doubling up of effort and conflicting strategic plans,” Greenwood told Food Magazine.

“We thought it best to actually put them all together and look at a modern way of undertaking research.”

Another issue with BSES was lack of funding sources. Greenwood said they had to look at new ways of getting guaranteed funding for research. SRA is an industry-owned organisation and research funding will come through levies.

The move for a new research organisation has been on the agenda for over two years. Greenwood said they went to members of the industry to find out what they wanted.

“I think the industry really wants a strong focus on new varieties, new cane varieties, because it’s critical for the future of the industry that we actually have new varieties produced on a regular basis. That gives us improved productivity,” Greenwood said.

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