Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is calling for the staged implementation of an agricultural emissions framework, starting with the establishment of a robust emissions measuring and reporting system, with a price on emissions not introduced until outstanding issues are resolved.
B+LNZ Board Chair Kate Acland says the Board has listened to what farmers have said at the organisation’s Annual Meeting last month and over the past few weeks.
Farmers acknowledge they have a part to play in addressing climate change and that expectations around addressing agricultural emissions will only increase.
The fact that 95 percent of commercial sheep and beef farmers have calculated their indicative GHG numbers through various calculators shows farmers are taking the issue seriously.
“At our recent annual meeting, farmers were at pains to point out they were not saying they should do nothing but were concerned about the how and the when.
“They have significant concerns about the system and processes and are worried that if we go too fast we risk putting farmers’ viability at risk, when progress is being made on reducing emissions already as shown by this year’s emissions figures.
“We know our farmers aren’t anti change – but if change is going to be driven by regulation, it needs to be the right changes, for the right reasons, at the right pace.
“Farmers concerns relate to the disproportionate impact on the sheep and beef sector and its ongoing viability, the need to develop a robust and practical on-farm system for calculating emissions and fairly recognising the carbon-sequestering vegetation on our farms, the availability of mitigation options, and also the potential for emissions leakage overseas.
“Given the time we have to resolve these concerns and then stand-up a system, it has become apparent that is not appropriate to price agricultural emissions from the outset.
“However, we do need to establish a credible, robust centralised measurement system trusted by farmers and other stakeholders. Issues around addressing emissions will not go away and it’s important that we stand up a farm-level reporting system as consumers will increasingly want to know this information.
“B+LNZ is not deviating from the principles of a farm-level approach and keeping agriculture out of the ETS, as was proposed by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership.
“We also remain committed to the He Waka Eke Noa partnership approach, but we need to take the time to get this right because the future of our sector relies on it.
“We need time to have deeper conversations with our farmers about this and test this position by talking to them directly. Our farmers have a track record of innovating in the face of change and we need their input to make things work. Over the coming months we will be holding a series of informal farmer meetings to listen more to concerns and test these positions.
“Farmers understand consumers are increasingly asking questions about emissions. With Scope 3 emissions reporting (where activities are tracked across the entire value chain) becoming widely demanded internationally, there are potential opportunities in having credible numbers around this.
“A measurement and reporting system should meet this need to ensure farmers don’t have to duplicate activities.”
For more information, please contact Sam Halstead on 027 474 6065 or Sam@latitudesc.co.nz