Accreditation secures a farming future

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More than half of Queensland’s sugarcane production area is now benchmarked in the Smartcane BMP program with hundreds of farms moving towards accreditation to join the 77 which already have their certificates.

CANEGROWERS Innisfail Chairman Joe Marano is urging growers to push through to accreditation just as he has.

“Firstly, if you’re going to stand up in front of growers and tell them they should do it, you should do it yourself,” he says.

The other reasons are personal with his son Daniel now working with him across 417 hectares of owned and leased land, Joe says Smartcane BMP will be a licence to farm in the future.

“I have family that wants to continue farming so it’s not about me anymore,” he says. “It’s about letting them have the right to farm by proving we meet all the environmental and sustainability requirements.”
With two of them doing the work, Joe says BMP is helping keep track of what’s going on to make sure nothing is being forgotten or missed in a busy work schedule.

“You also don’t want to be doubling up so the record keeping means you can make effective use of everyone’s time,” he says. “Having my son on the farm has certainly helped us expand and try to become better growers.”

Joe says his own list of farming challenges shows that growers don’t have to have everything worked out, implemented and finalised to be accredited in the three core modules.

“Take controlled traffic,” he says. “It takes six years to implement fully but the important thing is that most of your machinery matches your row widths.”

The other thing he’s worried about is growers shying away because they self-assess themselves out of it.

“My key message is don’t audit yourself!” he says. “You might find you are already doing something similar to Smartcane BMP so talk to your local facilitator.” Joe firmly believes Smartcane BMP will help sugarcane farming be around for a long time.

“We need to be ahead of the game so that governments and environmentalists can’t accuse us of doing harm to the reef – we need to prove we are not,” he says.

“Smartcane BMP does take time and money and some of us are unaccustomed to this but it is a small price to pay for living in the best part of the world along the east coast of Queensland – we need to set this up for future generations.”
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