In its submission to the Government, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has rejected the proposed agricultural emissions pricing system and called for essential changes to ensure the resulting system does not disproportionately impact sheep and beef farmers.
B+LNZ Chair Andrew Morrison says the Government’s own modelling reinforces the need for changes.
“The Government’s modelling showed that sheep and beef farmers would bear the brunt of their proposals. Their proposal has caused concern and anger in rural communities up and down the country.
“The Government must address key questions around equity and fairness before proceeding with emissions pricing.”
In light of the Government modelling, B+LNZ worked hard to get several key considerations added to or strengthened in the He Waka Eke Noa Partners’ joint consultation submission, and these are strongly supported in B+LNZ’s submission.
B+LNZ and the He Waka Eke Noa Partners have called for a precautionary approach to pricing and sought greater assurances from the Government around this. Prices should start as low as necessary and be kept as low as necessary, while impacts are monitored. B+LNZ and the Partners’ recommended price has been revised downwards to a starting level of no more than 5 cents in 2025.
Prices must also be based on more than just progress towards the emission targets. B+LNZ and the Partnership have put forward a broader set of criteria to be considered when setting levy rates, and have called for these criteria to be embedded in legislation.
B+LNZ and the Partnership have elaborated on the levy relief that farmers should receive when they don’t have access to sequestration or mitigations.
They have also proposed new annual sub-sector emissions reporting to ensure that no one sector is disproportionately affected, and whether any changes are needed to overall pricing or levy relief – in conjunction with examination of the impact of other policies, such as those relating to afforestation.
The importance of reverting to the He Waka Eke Noa Partners’ original proposals on sequestration have also been reiterated. B+LNZ has consistently said that if farmers are to face a price for their emissions, it’s only fair they receive adequate recognition for their sequestration from day one. This is a key priority area for sheep and beef farmers.
Another area highlighted as unacceptable is the Government’s proposal to remove slope as a factor for reporting on nitrous oxide emissions. The Government’s proposal will significantly disadvantage sheep and beef farmers, as around 79 percent of sheep and beef farms are classed as medium or steep slope. Recent science has proven that urine patches on slopes emit significantly fewer nitrous oxide emissions than on flat land and this has to be taken into account.
“These considerations are all hugely important and interconnected. The Government can’t just pick and choose aspects, because if one of them is ignored the whole approach unravels, at the expense of the ongoing viability and sustainability of the sheep and beef sector,” says Morrison.
B+LNZ and the Partners’ submissions also strengthen the advice around the emissions reductions targets, noting they are too high and that they must be reviewed using the latest warming science, including GWP*, before the pricing of agricultural emissions begins in 2025.
The submission also covers related considerations such as the policy settings incentivising carbon forestry, which is leading to wholesale conversion of sheep and beef farms. B+LNZ has repeatedly raised concerns about offsetting through planting exotic trees being seen as the fix for climate change, and has noted that New Zealand sheep and beef farms are second only to the Department of Conservation estate in terms of maintaining New Zealand’s biodiversity.
“Policies must not be viewed in isolation, especially when the ongoing viability of our world-leading red meat sector is at stake.
“Farmers simply don’t understand why a sector which has reduced its emissions by 30 percent since 1990, has arguably been climate neutral for lamb over the last 20 years, has increased export revenue by 250 percent since 1990, and has protected 1.4 million hectares of native bush, while also being a backbone employer in rural communities, and underpinning the economy during COVID-19 has seemingly been abandoned or even punished by the Government’s proposal.”
In addition to supporting the He Waka Eke Noa Partners’ joint submission, released last week, B+LNZ’s submission also reflects the nine core principles recently agreed by the Boards of B+LNZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers.
Morrison says the B+LNZ submission was heavily informed by farmer feedback. Following the release of the Government’s proposal for pricing agricultural emissions, B+LNZ held 21 face-to-face meetings and hui and nine joint webinars with DairyNZ, which were attended by around 1,200 farmers.
B+LNZ also arranged several smaller ‘wool-shed’ meetings across Southland, provided speakers at a range of meetings organised by other organisations such as District Councils and received a significant number of phone calls and emails from farmers on the Government’s proposal.
“What we heard during this period was essential in helping shape our submission and I want to thank all the farmers who contributed,” he says. “Over 3,400 farmers also downloaded the advice that B+LNZ provided on making a submission. This reflects the concern in the farming community about this issue and the Government needs to listen and make changes.”
- B+LNZ’s submission is available here (PDF, 1MB)
- The He Waka Eke Noa partners’ joint submission is available here (PDF, 526 KB)
For more information, please contact B+LNZ’s James Ford on 027 235 9806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org