THE State Government's announcement of an additional $4.6 million in funding to sugar cane research and development has put smiles on the faces of cane growers.
Premier Campbell Newman was in Mackay yesterday to meet with the region's sugar industry leaders and make the funding official through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with sugar cane research and development company BSES Limited.
Mackay Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri said the funding increase meant that local growers would be better poised to compete in the international sugar market.
"For the Australian sugar industry to cut the mustard with other competitors such as Brazil or Thailand we've got to be highly efficient and highly innovative, so that's why research and development is so important to us," Mr Schembri said.
"That $4.6 million across the next four years means a substantial injection into our research and development sector.
"The sugar industry is an exporter - we export around three million tonnes... so any investment by government in research and development is money well spent."
Mr Newman said the announcement was part of an election promise.
"The extra funding… will bring total investment for the sugar industry to $16 million over that time frame," he said.
While addressing the media about the announcement, Mr Newman refused to comment on questions about next week's planned industrial action by the United Fire Fighters Union.
The announcement also followed cuts in funding to both Biosecurity Queensland and the state's beef industry.
However, Mr Newman said the government was committed to investing heavily in agriculture.
"We've also put more funding into research and development, for example of pulses and barley," he said.
"I think you need to look beyond some of the nonsense that's been spoken."
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