Farmers rise to climate challenge

Image: Dairy NZ.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle is today joining with other primary sector leaders to launch a Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment: He Waka Eke Noa - our future in our hands to manage agricultural emissions.

“This commitment is an unprecedented sector-wide proposal to work constructively and collaboratively with Government, Maori and Iwi to make real and meaningful changes at the farm level to reduce emissions.

“What’s really positive about this proposal is it doesn’t just identify a problem – it provides a clear pathway forward and a way for the primary sector to work with the government rather than just impose regulations,” says Tim.

The proposal is being put forward in response to the Interim Climate Committee’s recommendation that agriculture be brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme for a five year period, until a farm level pricing mechanism is constructed.

“We and the ICCC both agree that a farm-based mechanism is the best way to address biological emissions, however, our views diverge when it comes to how we get there.

“Bringing agriculture into the ETS at the processor level amounts to little more than a broad-based tax on farmers before we have the knowledge, support and tools to drive the practice change that will reduce emissions.

“The stakes are high. New Zealand’s primary sector contributes one fifth of our GDP, generates 1 in 10 jobs and produce 75 per cent of our merchandise exports. We want to avoid shocks like the 80s and make any changes in a stable and considered way.”

Tim says as an alternative, Dairy NZ have put forward a proposed five year work programme to build an enduring farm-level emission reduction framework and work with farmers and the wider rural sector to provide real options to reduce their footprint.

“While appropriate pricing mechanisms for incentivising emissions reductions at farm level can have an important role to play in incentivising change, creating an environment that enables and supports farmers and growers to make changes on-the-ground is equally important to prepare for farm-based pricing from 2025.

“The dairy sector already has a commitment in our Dairy Tomorrow strategy for all farms to have Farm Sustainability Plans in place by 2025, and we are continuing to invest heavily in science, research and innovation to support our farmers to make the best decisions for their circumstances. Working together will achieve more change, than not.

“We’re on the same journey as the rest of New Zealand and DairyNZ is there to support our farmers to maintain our world-leading sustainability and competitiveness status.”

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