THE Mossman Mill is a step closer to being returned to the region’s sugar cane growers after funds were provided to progress the deal.
Far Northern Milling Pty Ltd, an entity controlled by Mossman and Tablelands growers, has received $250,000 from Douglas Shire Council to support the cooperative’s acquisition.
The mill was owned by growers until Mackay Sugar Limited acquired it in 2012. Last year they announced they would sell the mill, and Far Northern Milling was formed to oversee its purchase.
Far Northern Milling director Maryann Salvetti said while the council support was appreciated, there was still a way to go before the deal was delivered.
She said the cooperative had applied for state and federal government grants with the funding required to meet the terms of the sale.
Growers in both Mossman and on the Tablelands are supportive of the deal and agreements are currently being signed.
“The growers have already agreed to commit $2 a tonne for 10 years, so that is $20 million in leverage for another $20 million from government,” Ms Salvetti said.
“It is moving ahead really well, but every point is now critical.
“We have close to 100 growers and the Tableland growers are very keen to have the opportunity to buy their own mill and basically create their own destiny.”
Ms Salvetti said the mill was the lifeblood of the Mossman community and supported hundreds of jobs.
She said the acquisition would provide certainty for growers in the area.
Douglas Shire Council Mayor Julia Leu said the funds would also support growers’ plans to create a “Daintree Bio Precinct” to tap into renewable energy opportunities and create by-products at a processing facility on adjacent land.
“Here is an opportunity to save the industry our region was built on and invest in an economy-boosting project that sows new seeds for growth in Douglas Shire agriculture,” Cr Leu said.
“We are firmly optimistic about this green transformation of the sugar cane industry. Putting the mill back into canegrowers’ hands will give our young farmers certainty, restore investment confidence and push more dollars through the tills of small businesses in our shire.”