CANEGROWERS is congratulating farmers named as finalists in the 2017 Reef Alliance Awards.
CANEGROWERS chief executive officer Dan Galligan said the outstanding farmers were in a very motivated industry showing what they are doing to safeguard water quality for the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
Gary and Angela Spotswood of the Burdekin are finalists in the Reef Conservation category, Chris Russo from the Childers region is a finalist in the Reef Nutrient Management category and Mackay grower Tony Bugeja is a finalist for the Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership – Reef Sustainability Award.
“These growers have not only embraced the Federal Government’s Reef Program and/or Reef Trust initiatives as have hundreds of growers, but they pushed themselves further to become leaders and examples of best practice.
Mr Galligan said CANEGROWERS was calling on 2017 state election candidates to recognise that Smartcane BMP, and not regulation, was the most enduring way for the sugarcane industry to meet expectations and obligations around water quality for the Great Barrier Reef. The farming organisation is seeking a commitment of $7.2 million over the next four years to continue the program, he said.
“Special mention must also go to Deb Telford of CANEGROWERS Innisfail who is a finalist for the Reef Extension Officers Award,” Mr Galligan said.
“Among other things, Deb is her Wet Tropics district’s Smartcane BMP facilitator and has helped the owners of 40 per cent of that cane growing region achieve accreditation in the three water quality modules of this industry best practice program.”
Across the Queensland industry, 70pc of the cane area is benchmarked in Smartcane BMP and 15pc has been accredited as being farmed at or above industry best practice via an independent assessment process.
“The level of engagement and commitment by the farmers in our industry is growing and their farms and the environment beyond their boundaries are seeing the benefits,” Mr Galligan said.
“Where regulation imposes and embeds a a minimum standard, programs such as Smartcane BMP, backed by industry, promote continual improvement for sustainability, productivity and profitability outcomes.”