More funding for graziers as Reef protection laws pass

The Palaszczuk Government has announced $5.72 million to support graziers, furthering the Government’s support for the agricultural sector.

The funding was announced as the Palaszczuk Government took another important step to protect the Great Barrier Reef, with new laws to improve water quality passing Parliament today.

The legislation is underpinned by new regulations, to be finalised later this year, that will set minimum standards for run-off in catchments that flow into the Great Barrier Reef.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said science showed urgent action is needed to protect the Reef, and the thousands of jobs that rely on its health.

“Two recent scientific reports released last month – the Federal Government’s Outlook Report and the Water Quality Report Card that was a joint initiative between the Federal and Queensland governments – showed urgent action was needed to ensure the survival of Australia’s most treasured natural wonder,” Ms Enoch said.

“We know the two biggest threats to the reef are climate change and water quality, and the laws passed today will help improve water quality flowing to the Great Barrier Reef.”

Minister Enoch said the new regulations will not be aimed at those in the agricultural sector who are already meeting their industry’s minimum standards.

“In fact, those who are already accredited under their own industry’s standards will be able to have their hard work recognised,” Ms Enoch said.

“The proposed regulations will mirror practices that are already accepted by industry that strike a balance between reducing run-off while improving productivity and profitability.”

Minister Enoch said the Government would continue to support the agricultural sector, with an extra $5.72 million under the new Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions program.

“This funding will support beef cattle graziers in the Burdekin, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions and will help deliver one-on-one support for graziers and tailored land management plans,” she said.

“The program also includes $1.43 million in financial incentives for infrastructure improvements such as fencing, water troughs and erosion works.

“Priority access to incentive funding will be given to producers who put in the work and gained accreditation under the former Grazing Best Management Practice Program, which halted when AgForce deleted grazier’s data.”

Minister Enoch said the government was also offering $10.1 million through the Farming in Reef Catchments Rebate scheme, which will soon be available.

“The scheme will directly support eligible graziers, sugarcane producers and banana growers by providing a rebate of up to $1000 to seek professional agronomic advice to help them meet the regulated requirements,” she said.

“As well as this funding, we have made four commitments following consultation with stakeholders, industries and Government MPs.”

Minister Enoch said the Queensland Government has supported agricultural industries over the last decade to voluntarily improve their practices to help improve run-off.

“Since 2012, the Queensland Government has provided the agricultural sector around $110 million to improve water quality and support productive and profitable industries.

“We know some farmers have been doing hard work to reduce run-off. But unfortunately, the uptake of these voluntary practices has not been fast enough, and water quality has not improved.

“This is why this legislation is vital. We need to accelerate the uptake of these practices to protect the Reef now and into the future.”

World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said: “The regulations are an important measure for farmers in Reef catchments to transition in a market which is increasingly demanding greater evidence of sustainability”.

“The Reef is resilient and can bounce back but it needs our help. Today is a decisive step towards giving the Reef the clean water it needs to thrive,” Mr O’Gorman said.

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