Cane farmers bear the cost of clearing other people’s rubbish from their fields

A caravan washed into a cane field during the 2022 floods. Photo: Contributed

Susanna Freymark

Cane farmers urgently need financial help to clear flood rubbish hidden in their cane fields.

Richmond River Cane Growers president Geoff Pye said because cane is a two-year crop, they’ve had to wait until the harvest to see what rubbish from the floods is still on their land.

“When the cane is five foot high, you can’t find the debris,” Mr Pye said.

After a burn-off of the cane, other people’s rubbish washed away in the floods sits in the cane fields.

Mr Pye said there were 44-gallon drums and other rubbish in his cane crop.

“We’ve droned my place and there is heaps of debris sitting in the crop,” he said.

“Why should we bear the cost of removing other people’s rubbish?”

“It’s the EPA’s rubbish.”

State MP Richie Williamson said everything from gas cylinders to washing machines and furniture are being found on properties across the region.

“As cane farmers get rolling for harvest, they are finding more debris and waste in their crops, costing time and money for them to remove,” Mr Williamson said.

He said the previous Coalition government took on the costs of the immediate waste disposal in the aftermath of the floods and he wants the State Government to do the same.

NSW Cane Growers Association chairman Ross Farlow said farmers have been told they need to pay to dispose of rubbish that is not their own, but a result of the catastrophic flood of 2022.

Last year the LGAs waived fees at their waste facilities, canegrowers have been told the Environmental Protection Authority will not fund the cost of disposal fees this year, Mr Farlow said.

“Many tonnes of flood debris were cleared from cane farms in 2022 and it is expected that there is still a significant amount to be removed from the two-year old cane paddocks this year.

Sugar prospects are up after floods gave farmers a caning

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