Sugarcane growers across Queensland are elated today by news that the new government in Queensland has thrown their support behind the industry’s best practices program for sugarcane growers, Smartcane BMP.
Talks with new environment Minister, Steven Miles, have confirmed that the Palaszczuk Government will continue the contract in place to roll out Smartcane BMP across the State, funding the program until 2017.
Growers had been sweating on the outcome, after a huge industry-wide effort had been put into developing a program that targets farm profitability as well as helping farmers meet their legal obligations.
Sixteen months after launch, already 20% of growers had signed onto Smartcane BMP and momentum is building.
CANEGROWERS Chairman, Paul Schembri says he is encouraged by the nature of conversation with the Hon Dr Steven Miles, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef.
“We came away enormously pleased with the continued commitment by Minister Miles that the government would continue its support of Smartcane BMP. I really came away with the impression that it is not the intention of the government to go back to the big stick regulatory approach.
“That said, the government clearly outlined that it is keen to see continued engagement in the Smartcane BMP and increased numbers of registration and accredited growers.”
Mr Schembri says that Minister Miles confirmed the government was committed to the $100 million over five years, as announced in the lead-up to the election. This sum is flagged for investment towards water quality initiatives, scientific research and helping businesses transition to better environmental practices in the primary production and fishing industries. A high-level taskforce will determine the mix of tools and the best possible approach to the future management of the reef.
CANEGROWERS says that a key attribute of the Smartcane BMP program is that it is an industry self-managed system focussed on productivity, profitability and sustainability. The peak group says the speed at which the program was developed and the speed of uptake would not have been possible without the proactive partnership with the Queensland Government.
“Since the launch just 18 months ago, 845 farms accounting for more than 106,000 hectares under cane are registered and are working towards Smartcane BMP accreditation. In 16 months the Smartcane BMP has achieved buy-in by over 20% of the industry,” says Mr Schembri.
CANEGROWERS has extended a hearty invitation to Minister Miles to visit with cane growers in the regions as soon as he gets a window to do so.