Farmers seek Reef Rescue
PETER Verri is one of almost 300 cane farmers in the Far North to apply for the latest round of Reef Rescue funding.
The Mossman cane grower was successful in his first round submission, three years ago, to implement a better drainage system.
Mr Verri received a grant of about $20,000 to kickstart the project in 2008 but needs a further boost to finish what he started.
He said updating his drainage system would help prevent erosion and improve water quality flowing from the property.
“I would’ve loved to have done it myself but I just couldn’t afford it,” Mr Verri said.
“Unless you have help you don’t have a hope in hell of doing it.”
He is crossing his fingers that his application for $13,000 to help pay for a second-hand lawnmower and shielded sprayer is successful.
“I hope so, because I missed out on the second round when the mower was supposed to be put in place so we’ve already lost 12 months of mowing that we were meant to do,” he said.
The specialised side mower would be used to cut weeds that threaten to overtake the drains instead of using RoundUp spray, while the shielded sprayer would help cut down chemical use on crops.
Farmers are expected to stump up about 50 per cent of total costs, which means matching the amount kicked in by the Federal Government.
Terrain Natural Resource Management, which administers the grants on behalf of the Federal Government, has received about 280 applications in the Wet Tropics region and expects to approve more than last year’s total of 132.
Terrain sustainable industries manager John Reghenzani said twothirds of applications came from the cane industry.
“It is rewarding to see the continued high interest in sustainable farming by land managers in the region,” he said.
“As with previous years, Terrain received applications well exceeding the funds we have to allocate.
“Therefore proposals undergo a very rigorous selection process so that projects making the greatest improvement to water quality and farm profitability are funded.”
Reef Rescue is a fiveyear $200 million Federal Government program to improve water quality in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
Reapplying: Mossman cane farmer Peter Verri received funding in the fifi rst round of Reef Rescue funding to improve his drainage system