Smart­cane pro­gram grows

Central and North Rural Weekly - - RURAL WEEKLY - KEVIN BORG Chair­man, Canegrower­s Mackay

THE cane grow­ing in­dus­try is proud of the on­go­ing suc­cess of our vol­un­tary best-man­age­ment prac­tice pro­gram, Smart­cane BMP.

Ac­knowl­edged by the in­ter­na­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion pro­gram Bon­sucro as meet­ing on­farm sus­tain­able sugar re­quire­ments, the pro­gram is grow­ing from strength to strength.

We are cur­rently cel­e­brat­ing the 550th grower ac­cred­i­ta­tion in the state.

The Mackay district has the most grower ac­cred­i­ta­tions at 106.

Grower ac­cred­i­ta­tions con­tinue to in­crease and re-ac­cred­i­ta­tions (un­der­taken as part of a five-year re­view of farm­ing op­er­a­tions) are also gain­ing pace.

More than 122,300ha have been ac­cred­ited, in­clud­ing 18 per cent of pro­duc­tion un­der cane in Mackay.

In ad­di­tion, more than 1950 cane farm­ing en­ter­prises have now been bench­marked, equiv­a­lent to 310,661ha.

Cane farm­ers through­out the Mackay/plane Creek regions are show­ing the state and the na­tion they are con­sci­en­tious about the way they run their farms, with en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity at the fore­front of their ev­ery­day ac­tions.

Yet de­spite sup­port for the Smart­cane BMP pro­gram from the State Govern­ment, there now ap­pears to be an un­der­tone that what the in­dus­try is do­ing is still not good enough.

It leads one to think that no mat­ter what achieve­ments are made by the farm­ing sec­tor, we will see the goal­posts con­tinue to be moved, set­ting us up to fail and pre­vent­ing any ac­knowl­edg­ment of our achieve­ments and our on­go­ing suc­cess.

Yes, Canegrower­s on be­half of mem­bers will con­tinue to protest against the un­nec­es­sary manda­tory reef reg­u­la­tions put in place by the State Govern­ment last year.

On the flip side, we have also at­tempted to in­stil in our mem­bers the re­spon­si­bil­ity we all have to farm ac­cord­ing to mod­ern-day sus­tain­able meth­ods in or­der to pro­tect and build on our nat­u­ral cap­i­tal.

As time goes on, tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in test­ing have im­proved to the point where the au­thor­i­ties are now able to pick up even the slight­est traces of farm chem­i­cals in our wa­ter­ways.

Re­ports are still say­ing that these lev­els are not good enough. But many grow­ers are now be­gin­ning to won­der when enough will be enough.

The mes­sage to all State Govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives is that it is now more ob­vi­ous than ever that the big-stick ap­proach is back­fir­ing with grow­ers.

If you want our con­tin­ued en­gage­ment, you need to ac­knowl­edge the per­sonal in­vest­ment and progress that we’ve made, rather than leave us to won­der what will need to be done for govern­ment to be con­tent with our pace of change.

FI­NAL COL­UMN

IN other news, Canegrower­s

Mackay is dis­ap­pointed by News Corp’s de­ci­sion to move solely to dig­i­tal and end print runs of our lo­cal re­gional pa­pers.

In par­tic­u­lar, we are sad that the Ru­ral Weekly is soon to be­come a thing of the past. We can ill af­ford to lose these jour­nal­ists, who have told the sto­ries of our vi­brant ru­ral sec­tor so well.

I re­gret that this is my last op­por­tu­nity to com­mu­ni­cate with you through this fo­rum.

Canegrower­s Mackay has had a long and fruit­ful as­so­ci­a­tion with the Ru­ral Weekly in bring­ing to you the is­sues im­por­tant to the cane farm­ing sec­tor.

I would like to take this op­por­tu­nity to thank all our read­ers for your sup­port through­out the years and also for the great feed­back that we re­ceive as a re­sult of this fort­nightly col­umn.

I also want to thank all those jour­nal­ists who have taken a keen in­ter­est in our great in­dus­try and for giv­ing us the chance to be able to get our mes­sage across to our mem­bers and our com­mu­ni­ties.

GROW­ING NUM­BERS: Canegrower­s Mackay chair­man Kevin Borg says the in­dus­try is cel­e­brat­ing the 550th Smart­cane BMP grower ac­cred­i­ta­tion in the state. Pic­ture: Kir­ili Lamb

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