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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

The Hon Tony Burke MP
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Wet Tropics cane farmers get more help to care for the Great Barrier Reef

Media release
8 December 2009

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Sugarcane growers in the Wet Tropics region of the Great Barrier Reef catchment will receive $420,000 funding from the Rudd Government for the Reef Rescue Water Quality Grants and Partnerships.

The funding, under Caring for our Country, will help more sugarcane growers to improve the quality of water flowing from their farms into the Great Barrier Reef.

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett, and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke, said the $200 million Reef Rescue program aimed to reduce the amount of nutrients, pesticides and sediments impacting on the Reef.

"The Wet Tropics region has a significant influence on overall Reef water quality, with improvements in this area critical to building the resilience of corals to rising sea temperatures and other climate change effects," Mr Garrett said.

Mr Burke said the funding builds on the $4.27 million already announced by the Rudd Government to help ensure the sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef.

"Reef Rescue-funded projects are helping farmers use new technology to continually improve land management practices in horticulture, grazing, dairy and the sugarcane industry," Mr Burke said.

"Sugarcane farmers have been proactive in adopting new techniques to increase sustainability and profitability, delivering wins for both the reef and the industry.

"For example, I've seen how farmers are using global positioning systems in tractors to allow more precise planting and application of fertilisers and pesticides.

"Hooded sprayers are enabling more controlled herbicide application, and zonal tillage is reducing sediment runoff by minimising soil disturbance."

The Terrain Natural Resource Management group have been working to deliver Reef Rescue projects in the Wet Tropics.

Mr Burke and Mr Garrett praised sugarcane growers for embracing Reef Rescue so enthusiastically.

In the call for applications for the first Reef Rescue funding round in September 2009, more than 70 per cent of applications to Terrain NRM were from the cane industry.

So far this year 82 sugarcane farmers in the Wet Tropics have received water quality grants.

This additional $420,000 in funding will allow a further 16 projects from this round to go ahead.

For more information on sustainable land management in the Wet Tropics visit www.terrain.org.au  

For more information on Reef Rescue go to www.nrm.gov.au 

Commonwealth of Australia