Molasses shortage fears as drought continues

Molasses shortage fears as drought continues

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Robert Bond, Moonie, expects to run out of molasses within a month and has found it hard to find additional supply.

Robert Bond, Moonie, expects to run out of molasses within a month and has found it hard to find additional supply.

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A Moonie producer says he's found it exceedingly difficult to find molasses this season, with supplies locked up in long-term contracts.

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A Moonie producer says he's found it exceedingly difficult to find molasses this season, with supplies locked up in long-term contracts.

Robert Bond said with only a month's supply left in his molasses tank, he was facing the real possibility that he would not be able to find any more.

"I put an advertisement out requesting molasses on the market and the only calls I've received are from other producers wanting to know if I find some," he said.

"I have fed hundreds of tonnes of grain and hay this drought so far but molasses is king in many drought situations on the farm and should be always available if a government was intent on helping drought stricken farmers."

Australian Sugar Milling Council's Jim Crane said it was to be expected that producers without contracts might find it difficult to source molasses with dry conditions leading to a reduced cane crop.

"A number of our sugar mills are finished for the season, with others due to finish soon," he said.

"We're looking at just under 31 million tonnes this year.

"We're impacted by the season as much as the rest of agriculture at the moment.

"If there are people who are looking to the marketplace, most of it's probably already under contract. "

A Department of Agriculture and Fisheries spokesman said due to seasonal conditions the availability of unallocated molasses would be very tight.

"Graziers should continue to liaise with their feed supply companies and distributors for localised supply information," he said.

"DAF is in communication with key stakeholders in the sugar industry and molasses supply chain, and is continuing to monitor the situation."

Bundaberg Molasses manager Dan McGaw said while they had been able to fill all their contracts, he would receive phone calls from producers daily looking for molasses supplies.

"Most of it is contracted before the season even starts," he said.

"We do try and help where we can. Last year was just ridiculous from a supply and demand point but this year hasn't been much better."

Opposition agriculture spokesman Tony Perrett said if molasses supplies were to run out, a solution would be needed to keep Queensland graziers going.

"Having no molasses at all is simply not an option," he said.

"As a grazier, I know firsthand the importance of having molasses available to balance out your feed during the dry.

"The Palaszczuk government needs to work with the state's sugar millers and suppliers to ensure our affected farmers have access to the molasses they need."

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the organisation would help producers source molasses "if demand is sufficient".

""What we are hearing is that prolonged drought is increasing demand for this important feed supplement but at the same time has resulted in a reduced supply and increased cost," he said.

"We are keen to hear from any producers in this situation - members and non-members alike - so we can assess whether there is a problem and, if so, the scale of the issues and the best way to help."

AgForce last year worked with AgriTrading to import 2500 tonnes of molasses from Vietnam to on-sell to primary producers.

Any producers interested in a similar scheme this year can register at agforceqld.org.au/molasses

A lower volume cane crush has meant less molasses is available on the market.

A lower volume cane crush has meant less molasses is available on the market.

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