Sugar industry's Great Barrier Reef commitment is in the numbers

Sugar industry's Great Barrier Reef commitment is in the numbers
October 20 2016

Sugar industry’s Great Barrier Reef commitment is in the numbers   

CANEGROWERS says numbers and not letters on a report card paint the clearest and most up to date picture of what is really happening in the sugarcane growing districts of Queensland.

“We acknowledge today’s Great Barrier Reef Report Card which shows progress towards targets for nutrient, chemical and sediment runoff,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “But we know that this report card is a snapshot in time. Its grades are a reflection of water quality modelling against a water quality target taken more than 12 months ago.”

“We are wary of snapshot reports such as this and the modelling they’re based on. They don’t reflect all of the hard work and positive changes growers have been undertaking on their farms to make the Australian industry a world leader in sustainable sugar production.”

Over the past year the involvement of sugarcane growers in the industry’s best management practice program, Smartcane BMP, has risen dramatically demonstrating a huge commitment to water quality outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef.

“We are proud of our achievements so far,” Mr Galligan said. “63% of the cane farming land in the state, that’s 253,487 hectares, is now benchmarked in the Smartcane BMP program and we have seen a spike in accreditations in the three core water quality relevant modules.”

145 farms now accredited as farming at or above industry best practice.

“There are many more growers lined up to be accredited once they have accumulated the required farming records across a whole growing season or finished modifying a particular on-farm practice,” Mr Galligan said. “As an industry, we are investing time, money and effort into water quality.”

Over the past three years under the Federal Government Reef Programme, more than 1,000 sugarcane farmers have invested more than $20 million of their own money on reducing nutrient and pesticide runoff. That’s a contribution of $1.55 for every $1 from government.

“We are committed to maintaining a sugar industry that is profitable, productive and sustainable well into the future,” Mr Galligan said. “And in sugarcane farming, the environment and economics line up - using fertiliser effectively and keeping it on farm, in the crop and out of creeks benefits both water quality as well as the business bottom line.”

CANEGROWERS is an active participant in the Reef Alliance (with the Queensland Farmers’ Federation and other industry groups) to implement projects under the Federal Government’s Reef Trust initiative.