While the Government has accepted many of the recommendations from the He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, New Zealand’s red meat sector is concerned about several changes that alter the balance of what was proposed by the partnership.
“We need to further analyse these changes carefully, but one area of immediate concern is the proposed changes to sequestration, which is of real importance to sheep and beef farmers,” says Andrew Morrison, chairman of Beef+Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).
“We know we have a role to play in addressing climate change and our farmers are among the first to feel the effects of it.
“However, if farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions from 2025, it is vital they get proper recognition for the genuine sequestration happening on their farms.”
The Government has reduced the categories of sequestration recognised and proposed changes to the process for getting these categories recognised, says Mr Morrison.
“We need to clarify these changes with the Government and understand the intent and practical impact.
“New Zealand sheep and beef farmers have more than 1.4 million hectares of native forest on their land which is absorbing carbon and it’s only fair this is appropriately recognised in any framework from day one.”
B+LNZ’s modelling, which has been reinforced by independent modelling released by the Government, also demonstrates that sheep and beef farmers will be most heavily affected by a price on agricultural emissions. This would likely be exacerbated by the proposed sequestration changes.
“The He Waka Eke Noa proposal was designed as a carefully balanced package that was as equitable as possible across all parts of the primary sector,” says Mr Morrison.
“We are also studying carefully other areas that have been modified and will be working through this process with our He Waka Eke Noa partners and seeking feedback from farmers. These include proposed changes to the emissions price setting process and criteria, and the linking of the nitrous oxide price to the ETS price.”
Nathan Guy, chairman of the Meat Industry Association (MIA), says although the Government proposal is better than agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme, there is room for further improvement.
“Sheep and beef farmers and the meat processing and exporting sector collectively generate $12 billion in income per year for the country and account for more than 92,000 jobs, almost five percent of New Zealand’s full-time workforce. It’s critical we have the right policy settings so our sector can continue to deliver for our farmers, our processors and exporters, rural communities and the country.”
Since 1990, the sheep and beef sector has reduced its absolute emissions by approximately 30 percent and the pastoral sector has invested around $80 million towards ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the sector – including the development of world-leading low methane sheep genetics.
Other reductions have been made through improvements in factors such as feed and nutrition, and pasture management.
New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector is also very emissions efficient compared to other countries. The carbon footprint of sheep and beef production (on-farm Life Cycle Analysis) is estimated to be around half the average figure globally.
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