by Peter Carruthers
THE Federal Minister for Agriculture was in Proserpine on Thursday to "kick the dirt with real people” and talk with the Canegrowers board about issues affecting them.
David Littleproud also announced a plan to implement compulsory country of origin food labelling laws in place of the current laws which are currently voluntary.
After a meeting with the board of Proserpine Canegrowers - in which the Sugar Code of Conduct was discussed - Mr Littleproud said in "getting out and about I'm able to discuss the future and new opportunities like the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which will immediately eliminate most tariffs for horticulture products”.
The Coalition introduced a mandatory code of conduct for sugar last year to support contract negotiations between farmers and millers.
"We are coming to a pivotal moment in it's future and we are saying to cane growers up here this is your time to put forward your solutions and recommendations about the code working and whether there could be improvements,” he said.
"What I am hearing in farm shed and in the board room here today, all they are asking for is a level playing field.
"They are not asking for an advantage over the millers.
"The code of conduct that we have put in place is a mechanism to provide that,” Mr Littleproud said.
The Minister also meet with representatives from Mackay Sugar and in the Bowen region he heard from fruit and vegetable growers.