CANEROWERS is celebrating its members in the Cairns region who have lifted the Smartcane BMP program past the 200 accredited growers mark.
Paul Gregory, John Porta and Steve and Rose Destro have recently been independently audited and have shown they are farming at or above industry best practice to protect water quality for the Great Barrier Reef while maintaining productivity and profitability.
CANEGROWERS chief executive officer Dan Galligan said by becoming Smartcane BMP accredited, they had proved that they are doing their best for the reef where it really counts “every day, on the ground as they run their cane farming businesses.”
“As more growers become accredited, we can show that the whole industry is on the front foot for sustainability and stewardship,” Mr Galligan said.
“More than 67 per cent of the sugarcane area in Queensland is working through the Smartcane BMP program and already 27pc of the cane farm area in the Wet Tropics region is accredited.
“We are an industry of the future, playing our part in securing water quality for the reef.
“Many growers are already operating at best practice, so Smartcane BMP provides them an opportunity to show this to the world, to be proud of their commitment to sustainability and ensure they continue to adopt the industry’s best research outcomes.”
Farming at Gordonvale on opposite sides of a creek that flows to Trinity Inlet, brothers-in-law Paul Gregory and John Porta believe Smartcane BMP accreditation is the best way for cane growers to ensure their continuing right to farm along the Great Barrier Reef coast.
“Verifying our practices is the best defence we have, it’s the only way we can secure the future of our livelihoods,” Mr Gregory said.
“Industry and the government have negotiated that Smartcane BMP is the yardstick and it’s incumbent on all of us to be involved in the process and take steps to gain accreditation – otherwise we’d be letting the industry down.”
At Babinda, Steve and Rose Destro’s motivation for gaining Smartcane BMP accreditation was similar – wanting to show that farmers are doing the right thing by the Reef.
“We live here and we also enjoy the Reef for recreation,” Ms Destro said. “We now have the satisfaction of knowing that we can prove we are helping the environment while running a viable cane farming business.”
The Queensland Government supports Smartcane BMP and recognises that accredited growers have shown they are going beyond regulatory requirements in managing their cane crops for productivity while reducing risk to water quality and compliance officers will not be targeting growers who are accredited.
Over the next few weeks 1400 growers who are registered and have done the benchmarking or self-assessment phase of Smartcane BMP will be contacted about taking the next step towards accreditation.