Canegrowers wary of on-farm management

FARM REGULATION: Canegrowers chair Glenn Clarke says “regulation is not the sole answer”.
FARM REGULATION: Canegrowers chair Glenn Clarke says “regulation is not the sole answer”. Peter Carruthers

LAST Thursday the State Government delivered its response to 10 recommendations suggested by the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce.

It agreed or "agreed in principle" to all 10 points of the plan which aims to reform on-farm work practices with a view to improving the water quality on the Great Barrier Reef.

The government will spend $90 million over four years to implement the 10 recommendations made by the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce.

Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Dr Steven Miles is on the record as saying the "reef is in trouble" and he has acknowledged there is no "silver bullet" solution to the reef's problems.

But the implementation of the 10 recommendations of the GBRWST provided a chance to nurse the reef back to health before it's too late, he said.

"The recommendations set the stage for a bold new era of reform in water quality improvement and that is what we will deliver," he said.

Recommendation three suggested "developing options for farm-scale and point source water quality permit schemes" and "targeted regulatory approaches" will be employed to curb nutrient run-off.

Chair of Proserpine Canegrowers Glenn Clarke was wary about embracing on-farm direction from the state and said "regulation is not the sole answer to the problem".

"It needs to be a combined effort from growers and government. We need funding to help us modify our farming systems," he said.

"But to drill down into an individual farmer contribution it's pretty hard to determine what each individual is contributing.

"At the end of the day everyone who lives adjacent to the reef has a responsibility and it shouldn't just be targeted to the growers."

Canegrowers Queensland Chairman Paul Schembri agreed that "regulation will not get the job done".

Patricia Julien from the Mackay Conservation Group said the rate of uptake of self monitoring by growers had been slow and the government was getting impatient.

"Voluntary mechanisms are all well and good but it won't be enough to save the reef before it's too late," she said.

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