Farmer feedback reshaping He Waka Eke Noa options
DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) are taking farmer feedback on board and working hard to improve the agricultural emissions pricing options, including driving down the administration costs.
The sector has listened to farmers’ views on the two options developed by the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, He Waka Eke Noa, as alternatives to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
“The Government has made it clear that if the sector can’t deliver a credible alternative, agriculture will go straight into the ETS. But that’s not the only reason we need to act,” says DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel.
“We want to ensure farmers can continue running sustainable businesses while meeting the expectations of our communities and consumers that we're working to reduce our emissions. It’s also hugely important the sector and Government continue investing – and invest more – in R&D to develop new technologies to achieve this.”
The feedback from DairyNZ and B+LNZ’s roadshow is resoundingly clear – 99 percent of farmers don’t want agricultural emissions to be priced through the ETS. They want a system that is cost-effective, fair and will recognise and reward the actions they’re taking to reduce emissions behind the farm gate.
“We’re focused on doing everything we can to minimise costs to ensure farmers’ businesses remain viable, profitable and our rural communities continue to thrive. We’re working to make sure what’s eventually introduced is practical and sensible, and works on the ground for farmers,” says B+LNZ chair Andrew Morrison.
The He Waka Eke Noa partnership includes B+LNZ, DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association of NZ, Federated Farmers, Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ, Federation of Māori Authorities, Deer Industry New Zealand, Meat Industry Association and Apiculture New Zealand.
Unlike the ETS, the He Waka Eke Noa options recognise and reward farmers’ on-farm actions, reduce emissions and will invest more in R&D. Farmers want transparency over where the money is going, and proof of an effective plan to deliver technology to farmers.
“Farmers have expressed a strong preference for the farm-level levy option, so they are recognised and incentivised for on-farm actions. They want control over their farm emissions and farm management,” says Mr van der Poel.
Eight-six percent of feedback supported farm-level pricing as the final outcome of He Waka Eke Noa.
Farmers had different opinions on what pathway should be taken to reach farm-level pricing. Forty-seven percent want to move straight to farm-level pricing in 2025, followed by 40 percent supporting a transition to farm-level pricing from processor-level.
Farmers are clearly saying money raised through any levy needs to be reinvested in the sector and distributed in a fair and transparent way.
Farmers also support the recognition of a wider range of on-farm vegetation not eligible in the NZ ETS. Many farmers told us during the consultation they don’t like the proposed 2008 sequestration baseline and want to see soil carbon included once the science is robust.
“Farmers want the sector to have a seat at the table when levy prices are set and price-setting should be science-based, not influenced by politics. The pricing setting criteria needs to be transparent with industry bodies involved,” says Mr Morrison.
Farmers deserve a far better deal than the ETS. In the consultation, there was strong support for split gas pricing and the use of better metrics for setting methane reduction targets. Alongside work on He Waka Eke Noa, DairyNZ and B+LNZ will continue to speak up strongly on behalf of farmers for methane reduction targets that are scientifically robust and fair,” says Mr van der Poel.