In the face of renewed criticism following the Reef 2050 Plan, cane growers have reached a milestone with best management practice programs.
Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan said statewide, 56 per cent of Queensland’s cane land had now been benchmarked against the SmartCane Best Management Practice [BMP] guidelines.
A recent study found Queensland would not reach its target of an 80 per cent reduction in run-off by 2025 and some farms may need to be shut down.
However, Mr Galligan said this milestone showed farmers were dedicated to the health and welfare of the Great Barrier Reef.
The benchmark is the first stage of the BMP process where growers assess their current practices; the next stage is accreditation.
“The accreditation is the really important bit for community and outcomes but for us, getting growers motivated to do it in the first place is really important,” Mr Galligan said.
“The program has really gained momentum through the course of the last 12 months as growers are starting to grasp onto it as their approach to deal with environmental sustainability.”
Growers say efforts to protect Reef ignored
Despite the progress, cane farmers are angry at ongoing criticism about their efforts to reduce run-off onto the Great Barrier Reef.
Mackay canegrower and representative, Greg Plath, said it was frustrating he could not get his message heard.
“As an elected grower’s representative, I am continually inviting ministers and researchers to come and see what we do on our farm,” he said.
“The ones that do come are surprised at what we are doing now and what we have done over the last 50 and 60 years on our farms to reduce our downstream impacts.
“I think sometimes there is not enough recognition given to that.”
Tony Ross is a cane grower at Marwood, near Mackay.
He said he hoped a compromise could be reached between researchers, governments, farmers and environmentalists.
“I think we will meet with a compromise,” he said.
“It is just a matter of society realising that growers are trying to do their best and people have to understand where their food and fibre comes from.”
Source – ABC