Farmers pledge support for the Great Barrier Reef

Published: 19/07/2011

Cane farmers will join forces with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority under an innovative new environmental program officially launched in Mackay today (Friday 18 March 2011).

The Reef Guardian Farmers Pilot Program showcases farmers' good land practices that improve the health of the Reef and encourages other farmers to follow their lead.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Russell Reichelt said the Reef was at a crossroad and decisions made in the next few years were likely to determine its long-term future.

"We're delighted to work with cane farmers along the Great Barrier Reef to protect this great Australian icon for the future – we are developing the program with industry for industry," he said.

"Through this voluntary program we'll showcase the positive environmental work being undertaken by farmers, and we hope to inspire other landholders to adopt similar practices.

"Agricultural activities impact on the quality of water running from the land into the Reef, and improved farming practices can address this.

"This includes farming practices that improve water quality, soil health, energy efficiency and ensure nutrients don't wash into water ways.

"By fostering a sense of ownership amongst landholders whose activities can directly contribute to a healthy marine environment, we can improve the long-term outlook for the Reef."

The pilot program involves farmers from the three main cane districts of Queensland – the Burdekin, Mackay and Herbert areas. Among those involved are Tony and Marjorie Ross from Mackay.

"We're proud to be Reef Guardian farmers, and happy to be a part of the pilot program being developed with the cane industry," Tony said.

"Over the last 20 years we have been adapting our farming practices to keep fertilisers on the farm and minimise run-off. It's good for our business and the environment.

"We hope to spread the word to others about how simple modifications to farming practices can make a big difference."

In addition to their current work, they have plans to trial organic fertilisers on a five hectare section of the farm and compare the cane yields with conventionally fertilised crops.

Reef Guardian Farmers Pilot Program involves eight farmers, and will be expanded to grazing and the banana industry in the future.

Participating cane farmers will be able to publically show their commitment to the Reef by displaying a Reef Guardian sign on their farm gate or fence.

Reef Guardian Farmers is part of a broader Reef Guardian Program, which also involves 13 Councils and 200 schools taking part in on-ground environmental projects that benefit the Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority received a $3.8 million boost from Federal Budget to expand the highly successful Reef Guardians stewardship program.


Name: GBRMPA Media
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