Australian Canegrowers Association general manager Ian Ballantyne told ABC Online that heavy machine operators and train drivers are naming their own price with the mines.
“The reality is in many areas, particularly of skilled labour requirements – particularly people who drive harvesters, who drive large high-value haul-out equipment, who drive locomotives in the rail transport system – they are actually able to demand quite high incomes in the mines," he said.
“They're the sort of people that are very hard to replace because it takes literally some time to train them."
Ballantyne said many regional areas were being robbed of unskilled and skilled labour by the mines.
“Wages out there being offered are very attractive and it's becoming harder and harder for many agricultural industries, particularly cane and bananas and others, to actually attract seasonal labour," he told ABC Online.
The sugarcane industry has been affected by an outbreak of the debilitating fungal disease Smut, which in its worst form can dramatically reduce productivity and ultimately kill sugarcane plants.
But despite the setbacks facing the industry, Ballantyne said cane growers are ready for the usual truckload of challenges they will need to confront and overcome in the new year.