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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: Family history | The Farm | The River | David, Jenny and the Farm | Self-sufficiency and Aquarius | Cattle and floods | The landscape | Other on-farm agriculture | Buying and selling land | Poor economic times | Family partnership on the farm | Mill politics, harvesters and cane cutters | Changing methods | Chemicals | Market impacts and government subsidies | Generational change and succession | Impact on cane growing | Environmental issues | Politics of cane and the mill | Neighbours

Politics of cane and the mill

Jenny: I don’t know if this is interesting to your study but when you were talking about the CSR owning the mill down there, and they owned all the mills before they were sold as cooperatives to the growers, there was a whole colonial type attitude at the mills. There were staff and there were hierarchies of staff, and then there were the growers and then there were the workers.

The workers in the field?

Jenny: the workers in the field and the workers at the mill. And this was very colonial class driven. It wasn’t that there was really any nastiness but you knew it was there. And when we came here we had friends who were mill staff so they were in the top echelon, but they were our good friends and we hobnobbed with them all the time. But most probably most growers didn’t, did they?

David: probably not.

Jenny: and so because we were their age and we were educated and we were friendly with them so we were sort of in a class above. But there was that little thing – frisson – going through the whole set up.

David: when I was a child a lot of the mill staff wouldn’t speak to farmers, probably play golf with them perhaps but not much more.

Jenny: they wouldn’t go and socialise together. But obviously as soon as the growers bought the cooperative that all changed because a lot of the staff stayed on, they stayed there so they were like everybody else then – they were owned by the growers which was a bit cute.

David: they were picked, a lot of them – families had been born into the CSR and they’d been sort of educated …

Jenny: and they were really lovely people they were our really good friends but you know people knew about this attitude.

David: it was really colonial and some of them had been living in Fiji and that kind of stuff.

Jenny: lots of staff.

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