Reef regulations a step back for ag sector.

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The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) and industry members are frustrated following the introduction of new reef catchment regulations that will further restrict farmers as they struggle to recover from natural disasters and low commodity prices in some industries.

The Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 will see a greater regulatory burden placed on Queensland’s farmers while not guaranteeing any benefits for the Great Barrier Reef.

QFF President Stuart Armitage said QFF and its members remain opposed to the regulation of agricultural activities as described in the Bill. Regulation is a high cost, simplistic instrument that supports minimum standards of compliance at the expense of true practice change and does little to encourage a culture of innovation and excellence.

“Farmers continue to embrace practice change and make on-farm improvements to minimise soil loss, better manage fertiliser use and reduce pesticide runoff from their farms to safeguard the future of the Reef,” Mr Armitage said.

“These important actions are making huge improvements to the quality of the water leaving the farm and significantly contributing to the health of the Reef.”

“Despite the indisputable fact that the water quality targets set are very ambitious and grossly underfunded, governments have still invested considerable resources in voluntary management improvement programs, such as the Reef Alliance’s Growing a Great Barrier Reef project.”

“These programs are now starting to deliver results and they have good buy in from farmers. Increasing regulation is likely to undermine this momentum and will come at significant cost. It would be far better to invest that additional cost in existing voluntary programs that are working.”

“Just a few months ago government, industry and communities celebrated some of the outstanding efforts and achievements by farmers to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef under these programs.”

“If passed, the Bill will stifle much needed flexibility and sustainable growth in several established agricultural industries across the reef catchments including sugarcane, horticulture, grazing and grains.”

“Our sector continues to do its bit to deliver on community expectations and give the Reef its best chance of survival in the face of climate change. This legislation is not a step in the right direction.” 

Source: QFF