Focus on farmers is the right direction

Focus on farmers is the right direction
September 2 2020

CANEGROWERS has welcomed as a step in the right direction the Liberal National Party’s early State Election commitment to restore a balance between measures to protect the Great Barrier Reef and their impact on farmers.

“Putting farmers in the middle of solutions for the environment will help turn the dial back from the current bureaucratic overkill with reef regulations to a sensible and cooperative future that allows for a vibrant agricultural sector,” CANEGROWERS Chairman and Mackay sugarcane grower Paul Schembri said.

“The LNP has been talking with us and made a commitment to work with us directly to map out a process for the review they have announced in a letter to all major farming groups.

“We believe the review should deliver a repeal of the 2019 ramped up regulations which are a bridge too far in red tape and government interference in everyday farming operations.”

A CANEGROWERS analysis has found the current path of regulation will cost the Queensland economy $1.3 billion over the next decade, yet do little to secure the health of the Reef.

“We look forward to the LNP’s stated commitment to best practice being translated into ongoing government support for our voluntary industry program, Smartcane BMP, which has 70% of cane farmland engaged already,” Mr Schembri said.

“But we do have reservations about an indication that an LNP government would legislate minimum farm practice standards. Day to day farm operations should not be enshrined in law – we’ve always said this is a pathway to stifling innovation and engagement with farmers.”

The CANEGROWERS position on reef regulations has been strident and consistent. The peak sugarcane growers’ group has been calling for the political parties to commit to these measures ahead of the 2020 Queensland Election:

  • Repeal 2019 reef legislation and regulations
  • Make water quality plans and programs realistic and credible
  • Overhaul the system that manages and scrutinises water quality research that is used to inform policy
  • Support the sugarcane industry best management practice program, Smartcane BMP
  • Move functions related to agriculture from the Environment Department to a revitalised Agriculture Department