“It’s time we look at the interest of the farmer,” KAP state members Shane Knuth and Rob Katter said in response to the Australian Foreign Minister’s claims that assistance to the sugar industry would put international trade agreements at risk. “All we have heard from Julie Bishop is reasons why she won’t protect our own producers, not a solution,” Mr Knuth said. “Australians are sick and tired of hearing the concerns of multinational millers over our farmers.” Mr Knuth said it he was disappointed to see the Commonwealth and the State Agricultural Minister Bill Byrne back sugar mills over local producers. “Both parties should be working hard to ensure North Queensland has a sustainable sugar industry,” he said. “We have sugar towns stretching from Mossman right through to the Sunshine Coast very concerned about the changes to the marketing arrangements that will take place in 2016. “It’s a David and Goliath battle for family farms as they will soon have to deal directly with the multinational millers,” he said. The KAP’s ‘Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Act 2015’ aims to retain already existing market arrangements to ensure cane growers across Queensland have a choice in the marketing their own product. Mr Knuth said Ms Bishop was misleading the public by labelling the bill as a re-regulation measure. “This is not regulation as the foreign minister would have you believe, this is about giving farmers a choice,” Mr Knuth said KAP Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter believes without intervention the sugar industry is likely to follow a similar fate to other deregulated markets, now run by the global mega merchants. “We want to ensure the sugar industry has every opportunity to thrive,” Mr Katter said. “The Australian Government is a serial offender when it comes to protecting the interests of international corporations over our producers.” “The Howard Government’s failure to bring any benefits to sugar in the 2004 trade agreements appear to be replicated by Julie Bishop and the current government’s failed negotiations over the TPP. “Even when it comes to the TPP the Obama administration has indicated he will give nothing to beef or sugar. “If our own government won’t protect us who will?” he said. KAP has said they will continue to stick up for the 4400 cane-growing families which supply up to 4.5 million tonnes of sugar in Queensland each year.
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