The Queensland Government has responded to the significant issues raised by CANEGROWERS and initiated a review of the unfair process under which agriculture’s commitment to improving water quality for the Great Barrier Reef is assessed.
“Queensland’s sugarcane growers, through CANEGROWERS, have been saying for years that the Reef Water Quality Report Cards released by the State and Federal governments will lack credibility while they don’t reflect reality,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said.
“Our message is getting through and we look forward to further consultation with the departments headed by Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Meaghan Scanlon and Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley on the terms of reference for the review announced today.”
CANEGROWERS notes that the 2019 Reef Report Card has pleasingly recognised the achievements of growers involved in government programs in catchments from the Wet Tropics to Maryborough in improving areas of nutrient, pesticide and irrigation management, with progress towards the critical Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen target achieving an A ranking.
“However, the Report continues to grossly misrepresent sugarcane farming’s overall adoption of the most sustainable farming practices," Mr Galligan said.
“The lack of alignment between the Paddock to Reef reporting process, which informs the Report Card, and what is accepted sugarcane growing best practice as defined and accredited under the Smartcane BMP program, is a glaring fault.
“Proving our point, today’s Report Card continues to ignore the overall effort towards water quality outcomes where growers have voluntarily participated in Smartcane BMP to the extent that 35% of the sugarcane land is farmed by accredited growers and 80% is enrolled in the program."
Smartcane BMP was developed and operates with Queensland Government support but is not appropriately recognised in this process or in government policy. CANEGROWERS believes the misalignment is a fundamental flaw which must be addressed in the review.
“The sugarcane industry is committed to understand and, where practical, better manage the interactions between farming, water quality in the catchment and the health of the Reef,” Mr Galligan said.
“This commitment has underpinned the success of Smartcane BMP, and it’s evidence-based and economically-achievable best farming practices, which is recognised by the global sugar market as a sustainability benchmark.
“It is time the reporting process recognised and reflected what the rest of the world knows about our farming practices.”