THEN AND NOW: Canegrowers Maryborough Gympie chairman Jeff Atkinson (right) suffered flood problems not so long ago, but it is the market that worries growers now.
THEN AND NOW: Canegrowers Maryborough Gympie chairman Jeff Atkinson (right) suffered flood problems not so long ago, but it is the market that worries growers now.

Sugar hit to Gympie region growers from health warnings

SERIOUSLY alarming propaganda is damaging an increasingly important Gympie region agricultural industry, cane growers at Goomboorian and Sexton said yesterday.

Goomboorian grower Peter Buchanan switched to sugar cane after free trade deals took most of the sweetness out of his pineapple growing business.

Now he says health warnings about his new crop are out of proportion to warnings equally applicable to all food products, including meat, dairy, fruit and anything else containing sweetness or fat

Mr Buchanan yesterday said over-the-top warnings on sugar will eventually damage prices and cripple farmers.

Mr Buchanan said that while free trade agreements drove him from pineapples, warnings about sugar threaten to drive him from what he is doing now.

He said deep fried food might easily qualify for similar warnings.

"Everything in moderation, whatever it is,” he said..

That sentiment was echoed by Canegrowers Maryborough and Gympie chairman Jeff Atkinson, who said sugar seemed to be singled out by some nutritionists and by politicians who had proposed a sugar tax.

But he said that was not the primary source of low grower prices.

"There is a world surplus at the moment,” he said.

"India and Thailand are examples of countries where farmers have switched to sugar in big numbers and where they might easily switch back later.”

India had produced a huge tonnage as farmers switched from rice.

"Quite a few countries have had big or even record crops.

"It's like what happened with milk in Australia.

"What is interesting (in response to the nutritionists) is that sugar consumption has dropped per capita, but obesity rates had tripled.

"So it's not sugar,” he said.

Sexton grower Roger Bambling said his family had been growing sugar for years and would weather any market problems until prices picked up again.

Gympie Times


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