At CANEGROWERS we are proud of our focus on Smartcane BMP and the solid commitment of growers to the program as the path to achieving water quality outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef.
An ABC News story on the Queensland Government reef regulation compliance program, published online and also broadcast on ABC Radio, quoted data obtained under Queensland’s Right to Information laws showing 49% of the 344 growers audited by government officers under reef regulations in 2017-18 were found to be non-compliant while 9% were identified as using BMP. It headlined a lack of prosecutions under the regulations.
CANEGROWERS members and staff know that this is not a true picture of what's happening in our industry.
On the Queensland Country Hour on ABC Radio, CEO Dan Galligan has highlighted the high levels of grower participation in the Smartcane BMP program.
“From a CANEGROWERS perspective, our industry focus on solving this problem and being part of the solution to ensuring better water quality flowing onto the Great Barrier Reef has been the adoption of a voluntary program of best management practices,” he said.
“We’ve got about 2,000 farmers registered in the [Smartcane BMP] program, 70% of the cane land in Queensland is registered in the program, and benchmarking their practices. 330 farmers have been accredited and that’s our entire focus backed by government in terms of resources but it’s industry and farmers trying to change practices to improve water quality.
“There’s over 3,500 cane farmers in Queensland and as I’ve just said we’ve got nearly 2,000 registered and have gone through the benchmarking exercise in BMP and now they’re working their way towards accreditation. What’s been reported is 9% of those farmers that the government contacted which is 344 – I can’t account for who they contact or why they contact – that’s just the people they contacted.
“That data that’s been reported isn’t an assessment of [Smartcane] BMP, it is an assessment and a report on the compliance program of government and we’re really, really keen for people to understand that.
“It is not a report on the basis of what growers are doing in BMP because what growers are doing in BMP is enormous – they’re trying to meet very high community and environmental expectations. There is an enormous amount of work to do and we are seeing huge positive change in the industry. We’re very proud of that change.”
When asked about verification under Smartcane BMP, Mr Galligan explained the benchmarking and third party auditing process.
“The best practices themselves are based on industry research, the best Australian practices we have,” he explained. “They are now internationally recognised as the best practices for sugarcane production internationally as well and we’re now getting external recognition as well by the supply chain who want to buy sustainable sugar that they’re the best practices.”
Listen to the full interview on ABC Queensland Country Hour.