A Queensland State Government minister put his signature on a commitment to the sugarcane industry at the July 2017 meeting of the CANEGROWERS Policy Council. He also committed to continue to support the Smartcane BMP program but reaffirmed his plan to expand reef regulations.
Environment Minister Steven Miles signed a Cane Changer commitment in front of CANEGROWERS grower representatives and staff. The commitment is similar in format to those already signed by 109 growers in the Wet Tropics region.
Mr Miles committed to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of cane growers to improve farming practices, especially as they relate to the health of the Great Barrier Reef, to recognise the important role that cane growers play in Queensland and to work collaboratively with the industry for a better future for the industry and the environment.
“I am here to celebrate the work of Cane Changer,” Mr Miles said. “I’m signing a contract, just as those growers have, to demonstrate my support for this and the other programs we’re doing together.”
The Cane Changer project, being backed by the Queensland Government and CANEGROWERS and being delivered by Behaviour Innovation, is currently operating in the Innisfail, Tully and Cairns Region cane growing districts, with plans to expand it further in the future.
It is designed to recognise growers for their past innovations, foster innovation, pave the way for further sustainable change and 'set the record straight' with regards to the public image of the sugarcane industry.
Mr Miles told the Policy Council that Smartcane BMP was seeing exactly the kind of ramp up that was needed, with 70% of the cane area of Queensland now benchmarked and 224 businesses accredited.
Mr Miles said the government would continue to invest in and aggressively support BMP as its preferred method for getting voluntary buy in and commitment to improved practices but there would be no backdown in the Queensland Government’s plan to expand reef regulations to include more catchment areas and more agricultural industries.
CANEGROWERS is opposed to the regulation of farming practices and advocates that Smartcane BMP is the most enduring way for the industry to meet its obligations to improve water quality.
CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said the signing of the Cane Changer commitment was significant for the industry.
“We are pleased to have the Queensland Government, represented by Mr Miles, commit to our industry as our growers have committed their time, money and creativity to environmental outcomes," he said.
“Over the past 20 years the pace of innovation and change in the Queensland sugarcane industry has been rapid, driven by the need to remain profitable in a competitive world sugar market while minimising the impact of our farming practices on the wider environment, particularly the Great Barrier Reef.
“Smartcane BMP is driving that process further and we are grateful that Mr Miles has committed to acknowledge that effort and to work with us to take it into a sustainable future.”