Each year the cotton industry works hard to ensure myBMP delivers more value for its growers. In just two decades the cotton industry’s best management practice (BMP) program has completely changed the way other industries, community, and government view cotton production in Australia. Today, Australian cotton growers are renowned worldwide as being amongst the most innovative and sustainable cotton producers in the world.
Now consisting of ten modules, the recently refreshed myBMP program does many things to help growers manage and grow their businesses. It assists growers to meet regulatory requirements, reduce risks, implement industry best practice, and provides a pathway for innovation by connecting growers with the latest science and research. More recently it has been helping cotton growers to access premium international markets.
More than 75 percent of cotton farms are now involved in myBMP, with over 100 new growers joining the program in the past 12 months.
BCI is growing rapidly
Two years ago myBMP opened the doors for Australian cotton growers to enter the rapidly expanding global sustainable cotton market, made possible when Cotton Australia signed an agreement with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) to administer BCI in Australia through the myBMP program.
This year forty-four Australian farms produced over 57,000 tonnes of Better Cotton (BCI lint), representing 10.5 percent of Australia’s total lint production. Next year Better Cotton is likely to exceed 12 percent of Australia’s total lint production, or a record 110,000 tonnes based on current forecasts. This increasing volume is getting the attention of Australian cotton merchants.
The rapid uptake of BCI in Australia has been driven by an increasing global demand for Better Cotton resulting in many certified growers being able to negotiate a premium of $3 - $8 per bale for Better Cotton credits sold over the past two seasons.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is an international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the responsible and sustainable production of cotton globally. Cotton Australia manages the ongoing relationship with BCI on behalf of the industry, provides feedback on proposed changes to the BCI criteria, and will ensure the myBMP system remains harmonised with any future changes to BCI’s systems.
Worldwide, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) production footprint is growing exponentially. Currently at around 12 percent, BCI has set a target of exceeding 30 percent of global cotton production by 2020. BCI is also working hard to increase the demand for Better Cotton by attracting more brands and retailers each year. Several brands and retailers (including IKEA, Nike Inc., Adidas, Marks & Spencer, and H&M) have committed to sourcing all their cotton from sustainable sources by 2020. Eventually BCI aims for sustainable cotton to become a mainstream commodity.
Growers must do three things to qualify as a BCI grower in Australia; achieve myBMP certification, pay the full voluntary Cotton Australia levy, and register for BCI. Growers are encouraged to register their interest in BCI for this season by opting-in before the end of November. For information about how to opt in, click here
Monsanto grants continue
Cotton growers attaining myBMP certification this year will be eligible for a $2,000 grant under the ‘Better Farming Brighter Future’ sustainable cotton farming initiative offered by Monsanto.
This is the third consecutive season these grants have been offered to help encourage growers to undertake myBMP certification. More information is available at www.betterfarmingbrighterfuture.com.au
Fast tracking myBMP Certification
In response to the increasing interest in myBMP and BCI, this year Cotton Australia and the myBMP team held a session at the Australian Cotton Conference to assist cotton growers to fast track their myBMP certification. A few myths were busted, and growers had the opportunity to ask questions about setting up fuel storages, chemical sheds, farm signage, and how to get on top of safety management and spray records.
Top tips from the session were:
- Ask for help – Cotton Australia’s Regional Managers and CottonInfo’s Regional Extension Officers are there to help cotton growers get started and work through myBMP. Ask for a farm visit now.
- Make a start – Register at www.mybmp.com.au and tick off as many Level 1 and Level 2 checklist items as you can.
- Ask if unsure – Don’t get stuck on one item. See what other growers have done, there is often a simple solution.
- Book an audit – As soon as Level 1 and Level 2 checklist items have been completed. There will be time to fix a few things later.
- Have the key documents and records ready for the audit – this makes the audit easier and faster.
- Finalise myBMP certification before 31 December 2016 - be eligible for the Monsanto grant, and opt-in to BCI for this season.
Farm safety workshops
Over the past 18 months Cotton Australia delivered 20 workshops to help cotton growers improve on-farm safety. The workshops, presented by Bec Fing, were based on the improved myBMP Work Health and Safety Module. Growers who attended the workshops said they were very practical and well presented. The workshops have also helped growers prepare for myBMP certification.
New myBMP videos released
In two new videos released earlier this year, several cotton growers from Queensland and New South Wales shared their experiences on working through myBMP and the benefits certification has provided to their farms and businesses. The myBMP videos can be viewed on the Cotton Australia YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSlNIel13u0B0OUEGxqgUK-sa9wdxkBgC
Challenges for the coming year
The myBMP team will:
- Continue to lift grower engagement with myBMP in order to benefit growers directly and protect the industry from threats
- Continue to improve the myBMP platform for growers
- Encourage and support more growers with myBMP certification
- Continue to support grower engagement with BCI, providing the opportunity for increased market access and premiums
Growers wanting to know more about myBMP or BCI can contact their Cotton Australia Regional Manager or the myBMP office: