Advocacy update for farmers – winter grazing, carbon farming, emissions pricing and biodiversity

// Climate Change

The following was emailed to farmers on 28 September 2022.

trees on farm

We’ve been getting questions from farmers about B+LNZ’s advocacy efforts recently, so here’s an update on what we’ve been doing.

We share your concerns and frustrations with the Government’s deluge of poorly thought-out environmental policies. Pushing for sensible outcomes is our main priority.

At a glance:

  • Along with Federated Farmers and DairyNZ, we have spoken with and again written to Environment Minister David Parker to reiterate our concerns about the intensive winter grazing rules, which are becoming more confusing.
  • We’ve had lots of meetings with opposition MPs and environmental NGOs on the wholesale conversion of sheep and beef farmland to carbon farming and are looking at short- and long-term policy options.
  • We’ve released an explainer for sheep and beef farmers on the He Waka Eke Noa emissions pricing recommendations. This sets out our positions and addresses some common questions and misconceptions.
  • We continue to push for a rethink on the definition of Significant Natural Areas in the biodiversity rules and have arranged to get officials on-farm this week to get a practical farm-level view.

Freshwater regulation, particularly the intensive winter grazing rules

  • We’ve worked with Feds and DairyNZ to put continued pressure on the Government about the winter grazing rules.
  • Because the Government has failed to get the freshwater farm plan pathway in place in time, thousands of farmers are going to be forced down the expensive and time-consuming consenting pathway if they can’t meet permitted conditions.
  • We’re already seeing regional councils struggling to cope with the logistics of consenting requirements because of staff shortages and massive consenting workloads.
  • While we appreciate the efforts Environment Southland has made to put forward a practical solution for their farmers, it does not solve the issues raised and adds to the confusion of inconsistent approaches across the country.
  • Our three organisations wrote to Minister Parker in August asking for him to postpone the start date for the new rules (currently 1 November). 
  • We are yet to receive a response and wrote to Minister Parker again last week, calling for urgent action to delay the implementation of the regulations while an appropriate alternative solution is developed.
  • The intensive winter grazing rules are just one example of the way the Government has rushed out rules that needed extensive re-work. We’ll keep pushing for them to listen to our remaining and significant concerns.
  • While this work continues, we’re also working on getting the still-flawed low-slope map for stock exclusion reassessed. We’re pushing for an alternative approach, and our view is in line with other agricultural groups including Feds.

Wholesale land use change for carbon farming

  • We’re calling on the Government to urgently clarify its plans to address this. While there is a place for forestry for New Zealand to meet its climate change commitments, too many sheep and beef farms are going into forestry driven by the carbon price.   
  • The recent u-turn on a proposal to remove exotic trees from the permanent category of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was extremely disappointing given it was announced the same week the Climate Change Commission clearly stated the Government needs to urgently curtail forestry offsets because too much is already happening.
  • Over past few weeks we’ve met with National, Green Party and Act MPs to set out our concerns and discuss policy options as they start to think about their policy platforms ahead of next year’s General Election.
  • We’ve also met with environmental NGOs, who are increasingly vocal in their criticism of the Government’s policies.
  • Additionally, we’ve been working to get more media coverage of this issue.
  • If you haven’t already, check out social media posts like this one showing forestry planting in the Tararua district on what is a far cry from the “marginal land” the Government says forestry should be going into – we encourage farmers to highlight similar examples.
  • We’ll soon release updated independent research quantifying whole-farm sales for conversion to forestry, particularly carbon farming. We’ll use this to put more pressure on the Government.
  • We continue to call for urgent changes, which could be a combination of short-term (eg continued limits on foreign investment, some limits on carbon-only farming in the permanent category of the ETS, and potential rules at the regional level) and long-term policy solutions.
  • Our fundamental longer-term position remains – there needs to be specific limits in the ETS on the amount of offsetting fossil fuel emitters can do. New Zealand is the only country in the world that allows 100 percent forestry offsetting in its ETS. We’re not saying zero, but some limits are needed.
  • For more info on B+LNZ’s advocacy to date, see our website.

He Waka Eke Noa emissions pricing recommendations

  • We know some people have concerns about He Waka Eke Noa’s recommendations and we’re continuing to meet with farmers to discuss these concerns. Farmers are right to ask questions and we welcome debate.
  • We’ve developed a new ‘explainer’ that outlines our positions and addresses some common questions and misconceptions. Download the explainer (PDF, 782 KB).
  • To be clear, B+LNZ supports:
    • The He Waka Eke Noa process and partnership – while we’d prefer farmers didn’t face a price for their emissions, we believe He Waka Eke Noa is the best available option and is better than the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
    • A cautious approach to pricing – as New Zealand is the first country to do this. We also support the setting of strict criteria that take a range of factors into account when setting the methane price.
    • The use of GWP* – B+LNZ strongly supports the use of GWP* and a warming approach to the methane targets and annual reporting on warming. We’re pushing on the targets separately, however the He Waka Eke Noa recommendations also reflect the science behind GWP* (noting that it’s complicated to apply GWP* strictly at farm level at this stage).
    • Farmers getting better recognition for on-farm sequestration – B+LNZ’s position is that on the day farmers start to face a price on their emissions they need to get proper recognition for their sequestration. While we ultimately would like to improve the ETS, we do not believe it will be possible to have improvements in place in time and therefore want sequestration recognised in He Waka Eke Noa.
  • We’re making excellent progress towards He Waka Eke Noa milestones – reporting will be released soon and there has been a significant jump in the number of sheep and beef farmers knowing their GHG numbers.


  • We continue to put pressure on the Government about the NPS on Indigenous Biodiversity, particularly the overly broad criteria for Significant Natural Areas.
  • The possibility of all areas of native biodiversity being captured by the rules will cause uncertainty, significantly erode farmer confidence and likely result in impacts on farmer wellbeing.
  • We’ve arranged for officials to go on-farm this week to see implications of the rules on the ground.
  • We’ll keep making the case and will keep you updated.

A final word

This work is a constant grind. The Government isn’t listening and is trying to rush things through before the next election. 

However, we won’t give up and we’ll keep working with other industry organisations to increase our influence.

We’re also working on a plan in the lead-up to next year’s General Election so if there is a change of government then that new government will be up to speed on what needs to change and quickly.

We’re always happy to talk about what we’re doing so please get in touch if you have any questions.

iimage of Sam McIvor and Andrew Morrison