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Compliance

Compliance officers from the Department of Environment and Science will meet with producers to help them understand what is required under the minimum practice agricultural standards.

For most producers, the minimum practice agricultural standards involve activities they are already doing as part of their usual business practices and they will need to make minimal changes to comply. With a focus on keeping valuable nutrients and soil in the paddock, the standards support profitable and productive farming for long-term business sustainability while improving water quality for the Great Barrier Reef.

The compliance program is prioritising its efforts on the areas that represent the greatest water quality threat to the Reef.

While the officers aim to work with producers to meet the requirements, the department will respond to ongoing non-compliance in accordance with its Enforcement Guidelines.

For more information, please refer to the Department of Environment and Science Compliance and enforcement information.

Sugarcane compliance activities

Officers from the Department of Environment and Science are working on-ground to help cane farmers in the Reef catchments understand what is required to meet the regulated minimum standards.

Officers meet with growers to:

  • outline what is required
  • review farm records to be kept under the Reef regulations
  • inspect erosion and sediment control measures on the farm
  • advise of any changes required to meet the regulated requirements.

After this meeting, growers are visited each year until they meet the regulated requirements. While our team aims to work with growers to voluntarily meet the requirements, ongoing non-compliance may result in an enforcement response.

Our officers have the legal authority to request records and take copies as a record of the inspection. We take our legal obligations for information security and privacy very seriously and assure growers that only records required to be kept for legislative requirements are reviewed.

Areas with known high water quality impacts are a priority for compliance inspections, and all growers will be inspected over time. The number of growers inspected in each basin therefore varies, in some basins up to 65% of the farms have been inspected.

The following dashboard details compliance data with cane farmers and assistance provided in meeting the existing Reef regulations. This information is current as at June 2020.

The results show that while the non-compliance rates are high at the compliance’s team initial contact, most growers have taken steps and amended their farm practices voluntarily by the time the follow-up visit occurs.

The results also show there is large variation between basins. Compliance data is indicating that the basins with highest rates of compliance are the  Tully-Murray and Johnstone basins. These basins also have a high number of growers involved in the Smartcane BMP program, which promotes farm practices that align with the current regulatory requirements. The highest rates of non-compliance are in the Mackay-Whitsunday area in the Proserpine, O’Connell, and Plane Creek basins and in the Burdekin area in the Haughton basin; however these basins are showing an improvement in results over the last year.

Results of compliance activities (March 2016 – June 2020)

Total number of compliance activities1062
Total area inspected (%)30%
Total growers inspected (%)21%
Total number of initial compliance activities701
Total area inspected (ha)172648
Total number growers inspected692
Total number of follow-up compliance activities361

Farm area inspected by region

Farm area inspected by region graph

Number of growers inspected by region

Number of growers inspected by region graph

Results at first contact (Mar 2016 – June 2020)

Results at first contact graph

Results at follow-up contact (Mar 2016 – June 2020)

Results at follow-up contact graph

Basin results - at last contact

Basin results - at last contact graph

Legend

  • Compliant – the grower has been identified as compliant through the inspection as they meet the regulated requirements under Chapter 4A of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
  • BMP Accredited – the grower is accredited through Smartcane BMP, which requires farm practices to meet the regulated requirements.
  • Practice Change program – the grower is currently improving their practices to meet the regulated requirements by participating in a Practice Change program.
  • Non-compliant – the grower has not met the regulated requirements.
  • Other– the grower is no longer farming in that catchment or the inspection outcome is still under assessment.

For non-compliant results - reason for non-compliance (may be more than one reason)

For non-compliant results - reason for non-compliance graph

Legend

  • Soil – the grower performed no soil testing within the 12 months prior to planting the cane and applying fertiliser, or did not soil test all soil types.
  • Records – the grower did not keep all the required records such as soil tests, fertiliser application rates or fertiliser products.
  • Nitrogen (N) – the grower applied more than the optimum amount of nitrogen or the optimum amount of nitrogen was not able to be determined due to a lack of records or soil tests.
  • Phosphorus (P) – the grower applied more than the optimum amount of phosphorus or the optimum amount of phosphorus was not able to be determined due to a lack of records or soil tests.
    NOTE: Non-compliance reasons are not mutually exclusive and most growers are non-compliant for a number of reasons. Total number of growers in any catchment fluctuates seasonally which impacts percentages.