Sunshine Sugar was recently awarded financial support under the jointly funded State and Federal ‘Supply Chain Support Grant Program’.
The objective of this grant is to enable flood affected agricultural processing businesses and co-operatives to improve their future flood resilience capabilities.
Previously, Sunshine Sugar was successful in receiving flood support under the Anchor Grant program which saw assistance of some $12m under the State and Federal scheme. This funding was a critical contribution towards the immediate rebuild and repair efforts directly following the flood events of 2022.
CEO of Sunshine Sugar, Chris Connors explained; “The first phase of support under the Anchor Grant played an important role in our immediate efforts to get our three sugar mills up and running and our growers’ crops crushed as quickly as possible following the floods. The total cost of this phase was more than $40m, with the balance of funding coming from a combination of insurance and our own funds.”
This recently announced Supply Chain Support Grant (SCSG) will be targeted toward flood mitigation works at the Condong Sugar Mill in the Tweed region. The flood mitigation works at the Condong Sugar Mill are likely to include the construction of levee walls and mounds, along with raising of at-risk equipment.
“We have secured the maximum amount of $2m that we are eligible for under the SCSG, which we will match with an additional $2m,” said Mr Connors.
The utilisation of the grant for such flood mitigation works demonstrates a strategic approach to addressing the challenges posed by floods, and given the limitations of the one-off grant, prioritising one site is the most pragmatic decision to maximize the impact of the available funds.
Done properly, a comprehensive flood mitigation program across all three sugar mills and the refinery would likely take multiple years and cost upwards of $30m.
Mr Connors’ emphasised the significance of flood mitigation in the absence of viable insurance coverage as the best approach to protecting the business and its assets long term.
As such, Sunshine Sugar will continue advocating for and exploring additional funding avenues to implement comprehensive flood resilience measures across all its facilities.
“Overall, we feel this proactive approach along with the support received from government grants are essential steps in safeguarding the cane industry against the impact of floods and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the business and the communities it serves.”[12 January 2024]