The Australian Government is working hard to protect the Great Barrier Reef with the opening of the $5 million Reef Trust Tender to improve water quality in the Wet Tropics.
“This competitive tender from the Coalition’s $40 million Reef Trust will provide financial incentives to sugar cane farmers in the Wet Tropics to improve their nitrogen use efficiency and farm sustainability,” said Mr Entsch.
“The program builds on the positive work sugar cane farmers have already taken to work together on improving the Great Barrier Reef.”
Terrain Natural Resource Management (NRM) has successfully bid to act as service provider for this two-stage competitive tender, commencing now with an expression of interest round for sugar cane farmers which closes on 18 December 2014.
“Terrain NRM will work with interested cane farmers in the Wet Tropics to help reduce nitrogen runoff into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon,” said Minister Hunt.
“Nitrogen runoff from farms is a major factor affecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef and is linked to outbreaks of the damaging crown-of-thorns starfish.”
“The recently released Water Quality Report card shows a significant improvement in water quality over time, but more work is required. This project will deliver further improvements.”
Following the expression of interest stage, a market-based competitive tender will be run from 19 January to 19 February 2015 for sugar cane farmers to submit bids to support improvements to their nitrogen use efficiency and farm sustainability.
Terrain NRM will be holding workshops in early December to fully inform interested sugar cane farmers of the competitive tender’s objectives and requirements.
“Sugar cane farmers who are successful in the competitive tender will receive an initial payment in 2015 and then annual payments over three years from 2015-16,” said Mr Entsch.
“Participation in the project is voluntary and sugar cane farmers will determine their own nitrogen use efficiency targets and cost-effective means of achieving those targets.”
Further information online at: www.environment.gov.au/reef-trust-tender or from Terrain Natural Resource Management at: www.terrain.org.au/Projects/Agriculture-and-Innovation/Reef-Trust