Landmark day as Sugar Research Australia comes into being

TODAY is a landmark day for the Australian sugarcane industry as a streamlined new body for sugar research, Sugar Research Australia (SRA), can move into full operation.

The new body will refocus the sugarcane industry's research function, with an emphasis on providing services to further build on Australia's reputation as a world class producer of sugar.

Sugar industry leaders have welcomed the passage of legislation that now paves the way for the new industry-owned research company to become the focus of research for the Australian sugarcane industry.

"Starting today, Sugar Research Australia will be funded by a new statutory levy of 70 cents per tonne (35 cents to be paid by growers, and 35 to be paid by millers) paid on all processed sugarcane," says Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri. 

"The three existing bodies, BSES Limited, Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC) and the research elements of Sugar Research Limited (SRL) will be streamlined into a highly performing, modern outfit that we intend to build up to become the envy of the world," he says. 

"SRA provides a new well financed research company that we believe will draw out the very best results from the many world leading sugar industry researchers we have here in Australia."

The Australian Sugar Industry Alliance backed by Canegrowers and the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) pressed ahead with forming the new Company in early May this year ahead of the completion of the Parliamentary process so that it would be ready to operate at full efficiency from the outset in early July.

Quinton Hildebrand, Chairman of ASMC, says the formation of SRA will see a significant improvement in performance and coordination of sugar research.  The new company will also have certainty of funding with the introduction of the statutory levy strongly supported by an industry ballot in August 2012.

"We expect our annual investment in research to be in the order of $18M to $20M with the new company structured to attract the full quota of matching Federal Government funding of 0.5% of the value of industry production, expected to be around $5.5 - $6 million annually," Mr Hildebrand said.

Both leaders acknowledged the strong support from industry stakeholders through the past few years as the reform process has been rolled out.  They also acknowledged the support of the former Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig and his Department to achieve this July start for Sugar Research Australia as the industry services body funded by a new statutory levy of 70 cents per tonne, shared equally between growers and processors of the sugarcane.



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