Farm­ers seek Reef Res­cue

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWSWS -

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

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