CANEGROWERS has sent the letter below to Queensland and Australian newspapers responding to some recent comments and claims by the Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch
The Queensland Environment Minister, in attempting to justify her government’s move to ramp up red tape on sugarcane growers already working under stringent laws, has made claims and used figures recently which beg clarification and correction.
CANEGROWERS is proud of the decades of sugarcane industry commitment to improving farming methods and managing our impact on waterways that feed into the Great Barrier Reef.
Leeanne Enoch claims that at 11% of growers accredited under the industry’s Smartcane BMP best management practice program is not good enough and that program uptake has not been fast enough.
But she has failed to point out that those 11% of cane growing businesses manage 25% of the sugarcane farm area in Queensland. Nor did the Minister acknowledge the rapid progress towards voluntary accreditation that is underway across the state’s cane growing regions.
The target for Smartcane BMP, which is operated with support from the Queensland Government, is for 92% of the cane area in the Wet Tropics Region to be benchmarked and 51% accredited by 2022.
At June 2019, growers had already benchmarked 82% of the cane area while 40% had passed an accreditation audit.
The Burdekin region paints a very similar picture while the Mackay-Whitsunday region is almost halfway to its accreditation target with growers on a waiting list for independent third party auditors to become available.
We are struggling to understand the Minister’s disappointment in Smartcane BMP when the agreed targets are in sight with more than two years to go!
The Minister has also said that because of an apparent lack of participation in BMP by sugarcane growers, water quality continues to decline.
This is completely contrary to the conclusion in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan which says, “…substantial investment in better land management is improving water quality entering the Reef from the catchment..” and more specifically, “The good news is that the quality of water entering the Reef from agriculture is improving”.
CANEGROWERS members have every right to be proud of their achievements – for the environment and for the productivity and profitability gains they are making towards positioning themselves to meet international market demands for sustainable sugar.
CANEGROWERS is convinced that more red tape is the wrong approach and sends the wrong signals to industry. More regulation will not encourage an increase in the current trajectory of Smartcane BMP involvement – it’s happening already.
Working with us, supporting and acknowledging growers is the pathway to lasting change and prosperity.