By Growcom CEO

Growcom has welcomed the Queensland Government’s commitment that horticulture will remain unregulated by new reef management laws, provided our industry demonstrates most of its growers are moving towards best practice.

The Palaszczuk Government’s Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, better known as the Reef Bill, was passed through parliament last week, giving government unprecedented power to intervene in the everyday operations of agricultural businesses.

The government argued the health of the Great Barrier Reef demanded regulatory action. But not for horticulture, at least initially.

We thank Minister Enoch for taking our advice, acknowledging that regulation is unlikely to be the most effective and cost efficient mechanism of improving runoff water quality in horticulture.

Instead we believe industry-led best management practice programs are the answer to empowering farmers to deliver practice changes that increase Reef water quality.

Growcom intends to present plans to the state and federal government for further developing Hort360, the horticulture best management practice program, into the leading tool for growers to improve their sustainability and profitability.

We’ve already made impressive ground growing participation numbers despite very little support from government with almost 60% of our growers in Great Barrier Reef catchments participating in Hort360.

We’re also well on our way to developing a voluntary certification through the program to give growers confidence their practices are resulting in improved Reef water quality.

The capacity for growth in horticulture across Queensland is massive. Research has shown that increasing our consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts is essential to providing a growing global population with a healthy diet while staying within environmental constraints.

Horticulture then is not a threat to the Great Barrier Reef but key to its survival.

It’s our responsibility as an industry to continue to evolve our businesses for the better. We call on our growers, to get on board with Hort360 and improve their management practices.

It’s our job at Growcom to continue advocating for better support from government for the best management practice program we need to succeed.