11 May 2021.

The State Government’s acknowledgement of how agriculture’s practices have contributed to the improved quality of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef is vindication of what AgForce and industry have been saying for years.

On Sunday, Minister for the Environment and Great Barrier Reef Meaghan Scanlon said she wanted to “acknowledge farmers and graziers for their efforts to move away from using practices that pose a high risk to water quality.”

She added that “sugarcane…growers in the Wet Tropics and Burdekin regions were the main contributors to…a positive 2018-2019 result through improving their nutrient and irrigation management.”

The result was taken from the Reef Water Quality Report Card 2019 released earlier this year and showed the Burdekin and Wet Tropics regions had recorded the largest increase in best practice nutrient management for sugarcane, up 6.3 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.

AgForce Cane President Ricky Mio said these results were indicative of the incredible work being done throughout the whole of agriculture.

“AgForce has been trying to get the message across for a long time now that agriculture isn’t the villain when it comes to the Reef,” Mr Mio said.

“For years we have been improving our practices and playing our part in looking after the environment, including the Reef.

“The science backs us up. But that still doesn’t stop green groups cherry-picking and manipulating the science to suit their agendas and lay the blame at our feet.”

AgForce Reef Taskforce Chair Alex Stubbs said that despite all the great work being done by agriculture, new requirements for expanded commercial cropping, fodder, biofuels, and horticulture will still commence on June 1.

Mr Stubbs said he was urging every producer who owns a property in a Reef catchment to attend the government’s upcoming regional and Zoom information sessions to find out more about how the regulations will affect them.

“Producers managing approximately 2.7 million hectares of undeveloped or unused cropping land across six Reef catchments may need to apply for a regulatory permit prior to commencing any soil cultivation after 1 June 2021, and that’s a ticking time bomb for many,” Mr Stubbs said.

“AgForce and the State Government have held significant talks that resulted in the Government making some amendments to Reef regulations for new cropping, but that hasn’t been enough to stop them being introduced.

“To have the Government praise agriculture for its efforts is satisfying, but the Reef Water Quality Report Card is from 2019 and only captures a small sample of the terrific work being done on the ground at great expense to small family-run farming businesses.

“And if the figures from 2019 show improvement, then imagine where we must be now?

“Still, it’s the outdated science that underpins the legislation we have today. That’s why we need regular, consistent water quality testing of all catchments – so that we can know accurately the quality of the water on the Reef.

“That’s the true science, and we currently don’t have it.”

Producers and interested members of the public can attend either an online Zoom session or a meeting in person in the Fitzroy, Burnett-Mary, Burdekin, Wet Tropics, Mackay/Whitsundays, and Cape York regions from 18 May to 24 June.

For more information or to register to attend, visit or phone 13 74 68.

Check out the AgForce summary factsheet on new regulations for expanded cropping and horticulture to confirm if your enterprise will be affected.

Government information session schedule:



Date & Time

Online session held via Zoom

Tuesday, 18 May; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Online session held via Zoom

Monday, 24 May; 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.



Monday, 24 May; 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.



Wednesday, 26 May; 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.



Thursday, 27 May; 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.



Tuesday, 1 June; 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.



Wednesday, 2 June; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.



Tuesday, 8 June; 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.



Wednesday, 9 June; 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Online session held via Zoom

Thursday, 10 June; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Wet Tropics


Thursday, 17 June; 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.



Friday, 18 June; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Mackay Whitsundays


Monday, 21 June; 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Wet Tropics


Wednesday, 23 June; 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Cape York


Thursday, 24 June; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.



For media comments contact: AgForce CEO Michael Guerin 0488 002 092