Freshcare Environmental is a Recognised Program for Banana Producers to demonstrate Reef Regulations.

Freshcare and the Australian Banana Growers’ Council have been working with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and the Office of Great Barrier Reef to gain accreditation of the Freshcare Environmental Program under Part 5A of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) for agricultural environmentally relevant activities – commercial banana cultivation.

This accreditation was sought to ensure that Freshcare Environmental certified participants are recognised for the systems they have in place that are already verified by third-party audits, and are therefore a lower priority for compliance activities undertaken by the Department.

The Reef Protection Regulations established by the Queensland Government to protect the Great Barrier Reef, apply to all banana producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions (download the Great Barrier Reef catchment and river basin map)

As an accredited program Freshcare Environmental (ENV3) audits for Banana producers in the specified regions, will undertake to verify the specified application rates and record-keeping requirements in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act, and in alignment with the ENV3 compliance criteria.

“Reef Assured” will be a category added to the Freshcare Environmental Certificate for Banana Producers fully certified and achieving the Reef Regulation requirements. Certified producers will then be the lowest priority for regulatory inspections.

Under the Reef protection regulations, all banana producers in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy, and Burnett Mary regions will be required to:

  • keep general records from 1 December 2019, for example about fertilisers applied to land
  • comply with minimum practice agricultural standards as this requirement is applied to each region over the next three years from December 2020.
  • obtain an environmental authority (permit) if commencing new or expanded cropping or horticulture activities on five hectares or more that do not meet the cropping history test in the Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsunday, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions from 1 June 2021 (deferred from 1 June 2020).

Information and resources developed for Banana Producers in Reef Catchments

Freshcare ENV Factsheets:

Freshcare ENV3 – Banana Cultivation Resources Combined

Freshcare ENV Forms: 

Form – E5 (modified) Fertilisers and soil additives application record – bananas Ref1.0

Form – E5 (insert) Nutrient management plan – bananas Ref1.0

Australian Banana Growers Council – Banana BMP and environmental resources:

abgc.org.au/environmental-bmp

Queensland Reef Water Quality Program – Bananas Factsheet:

www.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/113482/factsheet-bananas.pdf

Queensland Reef Water Quality Program – Prescribed Banana Methodology:

www.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/113145/prescribed-banana-methodology.pdf

Queensland’s Reef Protection Regulations and minimum Agricultural Standards:

www.qld.gov.au/environment/agriculture/sustainable-farming/reef/reef-regulations/producers/bananas

The Agricultural Environmentally Relevant Activity Standard for Banana Cultivation:

www.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/113143/banana-era-standard.pdf

Queensland Government Reef Protection Regulations – Regions affected: 

www.qld.gov.au/environment/agriculture/sustainable-farming/reef/reef-regulations/regions

Rebate available for eligible Banana Growers

Some Banana Growers may be eligible for the Queensland Government’s Farming in Reef Catchments Rebate.

This one-off rebate of up to $1,000 is available for eligible commercial agricultural producers in the Reef regions to help offset the costs of obtaining professional and agronomic advice for nutrient and sediment management to meet the Reef protection regulations. Growers need to have sought advice from an Accredited Agricultural Adviser. 

You are not eligible if you have already received assistance to manage nutrient and sediment from the Queensland or Australian government. Producers undertaking new cropping or horticultural activities are also not eligible. 

Visit ‘Support programs’ on the Reef protection regulations to find out more at www.qld.gov.au/Reefregulations