AgForce Qld General President Georgie Somerset

May 26, 2020

AgForce Cane is now a reality despite opposition from some AgForce members and rival producer groups.

The official paperwork was signed and lodged on Friday for AgForce Qld to absorb the Burdekin-based Invicta Combined Growers Organisation (ICGO).

Any cane farmer in the Burdekin / Herbert regions can now join AgForce Qld.

The idea of adding a fourth commodity group under the AgForce umbrella was not universally welcomed by all AgForce members, something which General President Georgie Somerset admitted last month.

“We undertook an honest and comprehensive conversation with members and industry, and are confident that the overwhelming majority of our members support the move and the very real benefits it will afford,” Mrs Somerset said at the time.

“However, we do acknowledge this view wasn’t unanimous and we listened to and respect the opinions of all who contributed to the conversation.

“All I can ask is that these people ‘keep the faith’ with their organisation that has stood by them for more than 20 years and participate with an open mind as we journey together.”

Mrs Somerset said on Tuesday she was looking forward to working with cane farmer members.

“On behalf of the AgForce Board, as well as the Cattle, Sheep & Wool and Grains Commodity Boards, I’d like to welcome them to the AgForce family,” Mrs Somerset said

“I’d like to commend the courage and forward-thinking of the Board of the former ICGO – Chairman Ricky Mio, Deputy Chairman Laurence Dal Santo, and Directors Peter Papadimitriou and Russell Hall – for both their initial approach to AgForce and the way they have negotiated professionally but vigorously on behalf of their members along the way.

“They will constitute the AgForce Cane Board,  with Ricky as President as well as becoming a Director on the AgForce Board – until the 2022 AgForce general elections.”

Rival producer group Canegrowers said the move promoted “division and distraction” within Queensland agriculture.

“It is disappointing that rather than building on the historic collaboration and cooperation Canegrowers and AgForce have shared, the AgForce Board has decided to intentionally work as an alternative voice on sugarcane issues through an agreement with a small group based in the Burdekin,” chairman Paul Schembri said.

“To suggest, as AgForce has done, that setting up another sugarcane voice at the State level is somehow creating more unity within agriculture is an insult to our sensibilities, especially given their public statement outlining a plan to recruit for members from within our industry.”

AgForce Queensland was formed in 1999 from a merger of the Cattlemen’s Union of Australia (CU), the Queensland Graingrowers Association (QGGA) and the United Graziers’ Association (UGA).

These founder groups represented cattle, grains and sheep.

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