May 2013. Sugar Research Australia Limited, the company, was registered on 8 May 2013 (ACN 163 670 068) and seven independent Directors were appointed. The final SRA Constitution (v16 with refinements and detailing) is available for interested sugar industry stakeholders.
23 Mar 2013. SRA Staffing – nine senior positions advertised. Applications sought by 22 April 2013. See SRA Positions page.
15 Feb 2013. Sugar Research Australia Limited - advertising for applications for the initial SRA Board Chair and Directors, and expressions of interest for the SRA Research Funding Panel. Applications have closed. Many applications and expressions of interest were received by 28 February and will be considered by the Interim Selection Committee in March.
18 Dec 2012. Progress toward establishing Sugar Research Australia and actions for 2013 – information for growers, millers, organisation staff and researchers. link
20 Sept 2012. Sugar Research Australia – Application forwarded to Minister Joe Ludwig. The Australian Sugar Industry Alliance (ASA) forwarded a full application to Senator Joe Ludwig, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on establishing an Industry Owned Company ‘Sugar Research Australia’, with a new statutory levy, to consolidate and modernise the industry’s existing research structures on 20 Sept 2012. The ASA Application includes five reports in six volumes available to all industry stakeholders to download here.
1. ASA, Establishing an Industry Owned Company ‘Sugar Research Australia’ with a new statutory levy, September 2012, Application volume 1 link
2. ASA Sugar Research Australia Application, volume 2 link
3. Definition and Due Diligence Report, September 2012 volume A – including draft SRA Constitution v12c, SRA Statutory Funding Agreement v7b, Protocol and Principles. link 4. Volume B with Due Diligence detail is Confidential.
5. Consultation and Communication report, plus Sugar Poll 2012 Voting Plan, May 2012 link
6. Australian Sugar Industry Alliance, Establishing an Industry Owned Company, ‘Sugar Research Australia’, Initial Proposal to the Minister, February 2012 link
7. The Australian Sugar Industry RD&E Reform Report , September 2011 link
This Sugar Poll 2012 website aims to provide information for growers, millers and all sugar industry stakeholders to assist in understanding and voting for formation of Sugar Research Australia.
Sugar Poll 2012 is being organised by the Australian Sugar Industry Alliance (ASA) as the peak industry organisation with CANEGROWERS representing over 80% of growers and ASMC representing 98% of milling capacity.
ASA has conducted wide consultation, has prepared and widely provided a substantial development proposal based on sophisticated analysis that addresses criteria set for formation of an Industry Owned Company with an associated statutory levy [link to ASA submission to the Minister, February 2012].
ASA has now arranged this Poll in line with the Federal Government’s Levy Principles and Guidelines to ask the whole industry to decide on formation of a new and modern industry owned company, Sugar Research Australia, with a compulsory, statutory Sugar Levy to fund research, development and professional extension.
In early August, 4,445 sugarcane growing businesses in Queensland and New South Wales, plus the eight milling companies, received papers from the Australian Electoral Commission so they could vote in Sugar Poll 2012. Of the 4,445, only 19 letters were returned-to-sender and 15 have been readdressed and remailed. Eight growers have requested replacement papers and there have been 10-15 queries about farms and ABNs, each handled individually.
Overall, sugarcane growers and millers have been encouraged by the Australian Sugar Industry Alliance, with the backing of the Australian Sugar Milling Council and CANEGROWERS, to Vote in August for the formation of a new sugar Industry Owned Company, a dedicated single research company called Sugar Research Australia.
Establishing one focussed industry research and research management organisation to improve research performance and efficiency, and to bring costs to reasonable levels, is a key part of the full research reform package endorsed by the Australian Sugar Milling Council and CANEGROWERS through the Australian Sugar Industry Alliance (ASA) in October 2011.
Growers and Millers are being asked to vote Yes to form Sugar Research Australia and to introduce a single, stable statutory levy to be paid equally by growers and millers (35 cents/tonne of sugarcane supplied by growers, 35 cents/tonne of sugarcane processed by millers in place of the current fees for BSES and levy for SRDC). Funds collected through this compulsory levy will provide long term support for research and development, including of sugarcane varieties, and professional extension by Sugar Research Australia and a range of other skilled research providers.
Benefits for the whole industry – all sugarcane growers and processors – from forming Sugar Research Australia, in summary, will include -
- modernising of the Australian industry, a single strong Sugar Research Australia will attract researchers, staff and through research and adoption activity should raise interest and investment in cane farming
- stronger research performance by bringing together activities and staff of three current sugar industry organisations, BSES Limited, the government-industry entity SRDC, and aspects of the sugar milling research agency SRL into Sugar Research Australia
- secure funding for research, at reasonable levels, 35 cents per tonne of cane paid equally by all millers and growers each year (adding to a total levy of 70 cents a tonne). Sugarcane growing businesses will pay 35 cents a tonne of cane supplied, instead of the current 37 cents a tonne (the BSES service fee of 30 c/t plus SRDC levy of 7c/t).
- more money for research, variety development and biosecurity because Sugar Research Australia will be an efficient, effective organisation, with less overhead costs than BSES and SRDC, and because through Sugar Research Australia, the industry payments will attract full Federal matching contributions for research and development.
- sugar industry levypayers will be the owners of Sugar Research Australia, a not-for-profit company focussed on improving research, development and extension results for the industry.
There are already nine R&D research and development Industry Owned Companies in Australia, operating strongly for their industries including meat, dairy and forestry. It is a well-tested model.
The Australian Sugar Industry Alliance, CANEGROWERS and the Australian Sugar Milling Council leaders are supporting this reform because there are no industry negatives in the majority of growers and millers working together to establish and fund Sugar Research Australia.
Some groups and individuals may feel they are less advantaged by these changes, but the efficiencies, and increased industry and government funding will enable the whole industry, growing and milling sectors, and regions and groups to access a larger funding pool for RD&E projects of merit.
Sugar Poll is an important vote to form Sugar Research Australia with a funding levy. This vote will not affect local advisory arrangements. Those changes have already been made in the last six months because BSES was in a serious loss situation. The Professional Extension and Communications Unit will provide group extension from Sugar Research Australia. After tightening, BSES continues, as intended, with 145 staff and many activities but it is not financially stable. Bringing BSES operations into Sugar Research Australia is the way for the industry to ensure strong, ongoing RD&E.
The big risk for Australian sugar industry research is that this poll to establish Sugar Research Australia does not succeed. The Sugar Poll could fail just because too few growers vote. Both ASMC and CANEGROWERS are encouraging every growing business to vote and to post all voting papers back to the Australian Electoral Commission in August.
Without Sugar Research Australia and a compulsory statutory levy, sugar research faces uncertain funding, and the industry will still need to find ways to address issues with BSES and SRDC.
Establishing Sugar Research Australia as an IOC, backed by a compulsory statutory levy to be paid equally by growers and millers needs to be carried out in partnership with the Australian Government. ASA provided a detailed initial proposal to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in February 2012 plus a Consultation and Communication report and Sugar Poll 2012 Voting plan in May [link]. Key governance documents are under development [link]. ASA is to make a full submission on forming Sugar Research Australia to the Minister in September 2012. The Australian Government will not make a decision until after a formal submission that includes the results of the Sugar Poll. If agreed, legislation will need to be passed by the Australian Parliament.