Environmental Protection Changes and Data Collection
Does this affect your agriculture business?
WHO SHOULD READ THIS
- Graziers and grain growers across the Great Barrier Reef Catchments.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Agricultural producers may soon be required to meet new minimum practice standards and provide data in relation to compliance.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
- Consider whether you are operating in the Great Barrier Reef region and whether the proposed regulations may affect you and your agricultural business.
In February 2019, the Queensland government introduced a Bill to strengthen existing Great Barrier Reef protection regulations.
The proposed regulations are expected to commence mid to late 2019 and will allow the Minister to request data from the agricultural sector.
The Queensland government introduced the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (EPA Bill) to strengthen protections for the Great Barrier Reef.
The EPA Bill aims to reduce water pollution from agricultural and industrial land use entering Reef waters. It will affect cattle grazing, horticulture and commercially produced bananas, sugarcane and grains across Reef regions.
The Reef regions are Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay, Whitsunday, Cape York, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary.
Collecting agriculture industry data
Under the EPA Bill, compliance officers can visit farmers to assess their operations against new practice standards and to request information about farm activities. There is a maximum fine of $222,194.25 if you do not meet the practice standards.
The EPA Bill also includes a regulation-making power for the Queensland government to require data on fertiliser and chemical use, soil testing and crop yield from the agricultural sector. This would include information for the government to identify if growers and producers are meeting minimum standards.
If you fail to provide information, this is an offence with a fine of $6,672.50 per failure to produce.
Things you need to consider
The Queensland government has not yet passed the EPA Bill, but it is expected that it will commence in mid to late 2019. If the EPA Bill is passed, producers will be required to meet the new practice standards and provide data to identify if they comply with the standards. Producers face significant penalties if they do not meet the standards.
The Queensland government has prepared a form to help you identify if you operate in a Reef region and if the EPA bill may affect you (click here).
We have been supporting clients in the sector with data management and compliance activities to ensure they are prepared well in advance of the introduction of the new legislation.
For further information on any of the issues raised in this alert, or advice on the impact of the EPA Bill for you, please contact our below authors.
This publication covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.