New Zealand farmers have raised concerns both privately, directly to the boards of DairyNZ and Beef & Lamb, and publicly through the Primary Land Users Group in regard to the current proposals to either adopt the He Waka Eke Noa proposals or to join the Emissions Trading Scheme.
While farmers are waiting for feedback from DairyNZ and B&L their concerns are growing that NZ Agriculture along with the NZ economy will be forced, through a pretty unrealistic ideology mind-set, to produce less food, more expensively. Current World tensions (particularly the war in Ukraine) and the associate pressures on food security make this a pretty silly idea. Surely Minister Shaw has empathy for undernourished populations.
Farmers don’t believe that either the ETS or the two options that He Waka Eke Noa is promoting are fit for purpose. These options are based on taxing outputs or inputs, adding unnecessary cost to food production. The ‘pricing’ options are precedent setting leaving no way back from ideology driven demands.
Farmers believe that the HWEN proposals & the Government ETS do not recognise the requirement under article 2(b) of the Paris Accord as copied below:
(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
Article 2(b) clearly states that measures to address climate change must not threaten food production, something NZ Ag is extremely efficient at doing and they urge the Government & HWEN to fully support NZ Ag to do so.
Whilst farmers are opposed to the current HWEN proposals they recognise the need to find ways to better manage their emissions profile. To achieve this, they urge support for a 4th Option.
Farmers are disgusted at what they see as Government’s almost ‘Blackmail’ attitude and they believe that their Levy organisations must stand up and support their opposition to the current proposals. They must actively protect NZ Ag’s ability to continue to lead the World in efficient food production and not accept that ‘pricing emissions’ is in any way acceptable nor will effectively lead to emission reductions.
It must be understood that New Zealand’s total emissions of Green House Gases only amounts to 0.17% of the global total. This is below the level of the margin of error when measured on the global scale.
This is not seen as a reason or excuse for not doing anything to make significant reductions in our emissions but is used to give some much needed perspective to the debate.
Also given that NZ exports approximately 95% of its agricultural production, any reduction in the levels of food production will only result in transferring that production to somewhere overseas and as NZ is recognised as one of the most environmentally sound producers globally, a likely perverse outcome from such reduction will be an increase globally in the total GHG emissions.
The Agricultural sector is willing to do their bit to mitigate climate change regardless of the Paris Accord and they believe that the first and most important step in this process is to develop the science behind mitigating emissions through partial funding of research into viable methods of emission reductions.
Presently through DNZ & B&L there is a levy in place to help pay for control of the M-Bovis outbreak. Farmers are suggesting that this levy could be changed to directly fund research and development of viable emissions reduction methods.
Farmers currently have two boards of directors in DNZ & B&L that are answerable to the levy payers and are democratically elected, which should control where the money is spent.
Once results of the research become available this will help the levy payers to reduce their emissions profiles and both organisations have the ability to get new methods implemented on farm within their existing networks.
The current HWEN proposals carry significant unnecessary cost, are administratively cumbersome and contain unnecessary separate treatment for Maori.
If the Government chooses to put the agricultural sector into the ETS consumers, food production and the national economy will be the losers.
Primary Land Users Group