LAST week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited the Mackay farm of local grower Tony Bugeja to announce a further extension of the Reef Rescue program.
Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig joined the Prime Minister in making the announcement.
The announcement by the Prime Minister of an additional $200 million over the next five years is a positive investment in the future environmental sustainability of the sugar industry.
The principle underpinning Reef Rescue makes sense to farmers.
Rather than government taking a big stick approach via environmental regulation, Reef Rescue adopts the principle that farmer custodians of land and resources will always make better environmental stewards than governments.
Reef Rescue works by farmers making decisions that suit their farm to drive to environmental sustainability.
Reef Rescue aims to improve the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon by increasing the adoption of land management practices that reduce run-off of nutrients, chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and sediments from agricultural land.
This has been a genuine partnership between government, industry and farmers.
To that end, for every $1 of Commonwealth funding, the sugar industry has matched that contribution by $1.80.
This is not a handout but a financial partnership between industry and government.
The Reef Rescue Program has been a great success story for the sugar industry and coastal land management adjoining the reef.
Early water quality results point to a significant reduction in nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and pesticide loads.
This program shows that, if you back a farmer, his judgment and his management of land, the results for the environment are huge.
FINALLY, Canegrowers Mackay's Field Day AG.Trade.Life is fast approaching on May 8 and 9. Over 80 exhibitors have come on board at this point in time.
Let's hope the weather plays its part this time around.
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