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 ENV Forms:
Australian Banana Growers Council – Banana BMP and environmental resources:
Queensland Reef Water Quality Program – Bananas Factsheet:
Queensland Reef Water Quality Program – Prescribed Banana Methodology:
Queensland’s Reef Protection Regulations and minimum Agricultural Standards:
The Agricultural Environmentally Relevant Activity Standard for Banana Cultivation:
Queensland Government Reef Protection Regulations – Regions affected:
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
ENV Reef Assured
Where to go for assistance
The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) Best Management Practice Team can help you access valuable training and support to improve the environmental practice, productivity and profitability of your business through the Banana BMP self-assessment and incentives program.
Contact from Government Compliance Officers
Freshcare is in the process of providing certified growers landholder details to the Queensland Government. Where available, the government will take this into account but there may be a time-lag for all relevant data to be provided and verified.
If you are contacted by a government compliance officer and have Freshcare Environmental certification or are due for re-certification against the Reef Assured category, please advise the compliance officer. They will request a copy of your certificate and provide this and your details to the Queensland Government.
What information is reported to the Queensland Government?
Freshcare is required to submit data to the register of certified landholders (including landholder contact and business details and the location of the land on which the activity occurs) to the Queensland Government at least annually. This information is stored on a secure site only accessible to authorised Queensland Government officers. The data is only used to provide prioritisation for the compliance program and cannot be shared or used for any other purpose.
Growers will remain on this list while their certification is current, and their accreditation program maintains its recognition under the Reef protection regulations.
What to expect at your Freshcare Environmental audit
As an accredited program, Freshcare Environmental (ENV3) audits for banana growers in the specified regions will verify the specified application rates and record-keeping requirements in accordance with the Reef Protection regulations, and in alignment with the ENV3 audit criteria.
Reef Assured is a category added to the Freshcare Environmental Certificate for banana growers who are fully certified and meeting the Reef protection regulation requirements.
Is Freshcare Environmental Certification now a mandatory requirement for Banana growers in Reef Catchments?
Complying with the Reef protection regulations is a mandatory requirement for all commercial banana growers in specified Reef catchment regions.
Freshcare Environmental and the Banana BMP are voluntary practice change programs that support the adoption of the legislated minimum practice agricultural standards.
Banana growers that choose to achieve Freshcare Environmental – Reef Assured certification are considered a lower priority for compliance inspections under the Reef protection regulations.