Dec 21, 2022
Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is cautiously optimistic that the emissions pricing system being developed by government will help reduce farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without putting hill and high country farmers under undue financial pressure.
“The report released by government today shows that the government and the He Waka Eke Noa partners are finding more common ground. There’s a shared commitment to further reduce emissions from farming through on-farm sequestration and the development and adoption of new technologies,” says DINZ chair Mandy Bell.
“At the same time, there is a shared recognition that some farmers – especially beef, deer and sheep farmers running extensive hill and high country operations – are already financially stretched and have no economically viable way to reduce their emissions.”
The timing of the report was driven by the Climate Change Response Act which requires the government to release a report by 31 December 2022 on an emissions pricing system for agriculture outside the emissions trading scheme (ETS).
“Because of the lack of off-the-shelf solutions that farmers can apply, the government needs to recognise that the levies on emissions need to be set at a low level, sufficient to make the system self-funding, rather than using levies as the major driver of emissions reductions,” says DINZ CEO Innes Moffat.
“Emissions reductions will come from the development of new technologies funded by these levies and government. Also, some of the financial impact of the levies will be dissipated by making a wider range of on-farm tree plantings eligible for carbon payments, outside the ETS.”
He says DINZ remains concerned that even ‘low-level’ carbon levies could have a severe impact on the viability of some extensive farmers and will be keeping a close eye on how a proposed ‘transitional pricing system’ shapes up. Under such a system, farmers without mitigations, or the ability to derive income from sequestration, would be eligible for some reduction in levies.
DINZ wants all GHG-related calculations, such as non-ETS on-farm sequestration and the adoption of recognised GHG-reduction technologies, to be captured by a single farm calculator. “Farmers are already burdened with compliance activities – we don’t want that load to be increased,” Moffat says.
“We are also keeping an eye on nitrous oxide emissions calculations, to ensure that the impact of slope is recognised. Basically, less N is leached and emitted from urine shed on a slope than on flat land.”
Moffat says finding a way to price greenhouse gas emissions from farming was always going to be extremely complex. But he notes there is strong drive from the public, our markets and farmers themselves for our food production to be as green as it can be.
“The government has clearly listened to what the He Waka Eke Noa partners have been saying about what is practical, affordable and achievable. There is now much more common ground to work upon.
“Under the Climate Change Response Act agricultural emissions will be priced, DINZ has been working within this context to represent the interests of deer farmers, it is therefore encouraged by the approach the government has taken but will continue to work on the details.”