Beef + Lamb New Zealand has continued advocating on government policy over the COVID-19 lockdown period. Despite the obvious limitations presented by Alert Level 4 and 3, we have continued our engagement and discussions with officials and Ministers on a range of areas with a particular focus on the environment.
*The following is an update from Chairman Andrew Morrison and Chief Executive Sam McIvor.
A central part of our thinking about the months and years ahead is that our sheep and beef sector remains central to New Zealand’s economic well-being. The COVID-19 situation means the country is increasingly reliant on agriculture to support the New Zealand economy as other sectors come under pressure.
We are determined to maximise our contribution and it’s vital New Zealand develops sound, considered and practical policy.
Throughout the public consultation processes for Essential Freshwater (EFW) and Biodiversity NPS (NPSIB) policy packages, and the Zero Carbon Act and Emissions Trading Reform Amendment Bill, we have been clear there has been insufficient economic analysis, individual policies are not well-connected and due consideration has not been given to the cumulative economic impact of measures to address climate change, water, and biodiversity.
The speed at which the Government is trying to tackle all these policies has led to proposals with negative unintended consequences for our sector and rural communities. This includes:
- the broad definition of significant natural areas in the NPSIB, which could capture entire sheep and beef farms;
- a grandparenting approach to ‘holding the line’ on freshwater quality – benefiting high emitters and disproportionally impacting on low emitters, and proposals that will lead to fencing many parts of the hill country and restricting good practice stock policies, despite the science indicating the environmental outcomes could be achieved through good management;
- a suite of climate change policy which incentivises large scale exotic plantation forestry, instead of actions which will deliver actual reductions in fossil fuel emissions.
We have been continuing to raise these concerns over the last few months.
We are pleased with the progress that has been made to establish the structure and work programme for He Waka Eke Noa – the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment with the Government. B+LNZ took an active role in developing the concept of He Waka Eke Noa and continues to lead by hosting the programme office. This agreement prevents farmers from being taxed for emissions at the processor or having to enter the ETS.
We are encouraging the Government to take a similar co-design approach in other environmental policy areas.
Co-design ensures that we get our policy settings right, that we ensure the policies fit together and achieve positive outcomes for climate change adaptation, indigenous biodiversity and freshwater ecosystem health.
Policies must be delivered in a way that takes account of the capacity of those to act without compromising the primary sector’s key role in New Zealand’s economic recovery.
We are not opposed to robust environmental policies because New Zealand’s future and our future as exporters of high-quality natural products relies on a strong environmental reputation, but in the new COVID-19 era, it is more important than ever that we get the policy settings right.
You can find copies of some of our submissions on the various webpages: