Peak industry body for Queensland horticulture, Growcom today launched the Hort360 Reef Certification program, a key component of the Hort360 Great Barrier Reef (Hort360 GBR) Best Management Practice (BMP) Program, supported by the Queensland Government.
By participating in and gaining certification through Hort360, Queensland horticulture growers have an opportunity to increase confidence and certainty in managing their soil, water and crops while achieving a good financial return. Hort360 Reef Certification helps businesses meet the expectations of their customers and community and be well regarded in the industry.
Hort360 Manager, Scott Wallace said Hort360 Reef Certification would provide a quality, credible certification pathway for horticulture growers to demonstrate their environmental stewardship and industry best practice standards in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
“The intent to establishing a Hort360 Reef Certification is not to add to, but align and leverage, current systems used by horticulture businesses which specifically provide a water quality outcome,” Mr Wallace said.
It is recognised that the majority of horticulture businesses operate within a food safety quality assurance system, and that some horticulture businesses also have an environmental certification. These independently audited systems are widely recognised across the horticulture industry supply chain.
Whilst these systems satisfy a specific purpose, they are far broader than what is required to achieve Hort360 Reef Certification.
“The Hort360 Reef Certification framework specifically focusses on environmental stewardship and industry best practice standards in reef catchments that will deliver improved water quality,” Mr Wallace said.
Hort360 is an easy to use, step-by-step, facilitated risk assessment tool designed to give growers a 360-degree view of their farm business operations. Hort360 is based on many years of extension work with growers throughout Queensland.
The Hort360 Reef Certification module can be completed as a self-assessment or with a Hort360 Facilitator.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch encouraged all horticulture businesses to start working towards Hort360 Reef Certification.
“The Palaszczuk Government is investing over $2 million in the Hort360 Great Barrier Reef Best Management Practice Program, to support farmers in their efforts to improve the quality of water flowing to the Reef,” Minister Enoch said.
“Through this certification, businesses will be acknowledged for protecting the reef and supporting the community.”
Growcom welcomes the opportunity for the horticulture industry to demonstrate it is meeting best practice standards through voluntary uptake of the Hort360 GBR program, potentially avoiding the need for regulated minimum standards for horticulture.
Hort360 GBR BMP is funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program and delivered by Growcom.