Future proofing farms with carbon certification
Toitū Envirocare’s new farm carbon certification programmes can help New Zealand’s thousands of pastoral farmers take advantage of huge market opportunities for sustainable products and position them well in advance of possible Government regulation.
The market opportunity is massive with a Unilever study showing about a third of consumers in the United States, Europe and Asia are choosing produce purchases based on environmental considerations.
Research shows sustainable dairy products can earn a price premium of up to 47 per cent.
The primary sector and the Government last year signed a joint action plan, He Waka Eke Noa, to measure and reduce primary sector carbon emissions by 2025 or for the sector to face being enrolled in the Emissions Trading Scheme.
To support farmers to meet these demands the Government-owned environmental certifications provider Toitū Envirocare has partnered to take its tried-and-tested carbon reduction and certification programmes for commerce and industry and tailored them to develop New Zealand’s first carbon certification programme for pastoral farmers.
The tool links to OverseerFM® farm nutrient management planning software used by thousands of New Zealand farmers.
This ensures a smooth process for farmers to use their OverseerFM carbon footprint for certification and so avoids duplication of effort and entering farm data twice.
Farmers who sign on to the carbon certification programme make a carbon reduction plan using Toitū’s farm emanage software tool.
The reduction plan is informed by OverseerFM GHG analysis and the carbon stock tool for sequestration potential. Guidance on how to make reductions, with links to external information sources, is built into the tool.
The programme is founded on partnerships with software partner Overseer Limited, and audit and assurance partner AsureQuality, and support from Beef and Lamb New Zealand.
“Toitū carbonzero and Toitū carbonreduce certification for the primary sector will enable farmers to quantify and verify their performance regarding carbon emissions. New Zealand farmers outperform others around the world but until they verify this, they can’t make those claims,” says Toitū Envirocare spokesperson Steve Dixon.
“With AsureQuality, this new programme provides that verification and advises farmers on how they can continue to reduce carbon emissions.”
Steve says many in the agriculture sector do not believe Government regulation is the most efficient way to cut emissions and the He Waka Eke Noa accord gives the sector the opportunity to find its own solutions first.
He Waka Eke Noa has set a target of 25 per cent of farms having a plan to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions by 2022 and all farms having a plan by 2025.
He says Toitū carbonzero certification will enable farmers to “future-proof” their farms by:
· Staying ahead of anticipated regulatory requirements,
· Meeting the evolving sustainability expectations of the consumer market,
· Validating on-farm environmental efforts and
· Increasing revenue by contributing to the development of carbon certified products
The certification programme uses Toitū farm emanage emissions-tracking software to meet the unique requirements of farms.
The tool allows for using greenhouse gas and carbon stock analyses from OverseerFM to complete an emissions inventory and inform reduction plans.
Steve says integration of Toitū Envirocare’s programme with OverseerFM was a huge advantage as it is already used by thousands of pastoral farmers.
The cost of the carbon certification programme is $1,500 per year for membership plus $2,095 for the first year’s audit and certification.
The cost of audit and certification drops in the second and third year as they will be conducted remotely. Toitū is also offering an introductory price of $1,000 for membership.
Steve says the set up for the carbon certification programme is straightforward.
· Sign up to Toitū’s online platform – Toitū farm emanage https://www.toitu.co.nz/what-we-offer/farm-certification
· Publish their existing analysis from OverseerFM to Toitū farm emanage
· Input additional information to complete their emissions inventory
· Develop an emissions management plan
· Book an AsureQuality audit