Agriculture sector releases draft emissions pricing plan

A ‘farm-level’ approach to reducing and pricing emissions has been recommended by New Zealand agricultural leaders as farmers approach a deadline to pay for their emissions.

He Waka Eke Noa recommends a gas allocation approach to applying different taxes to individual farms, which recognizes the different impacts between short-term and long-term gas emissions.

Farmers would calculate their own short- and long-term gas emissions using a centralized calculator.

These calculated on-farm emissions will determine the cost of the levy, rather than using national averages. This would mean that if a farm reduced its emissions, it would be reflected in the prices. The report also recommended incentives for the adoption of different practices and technologies to reduce emissions.

It would recognize if farms offset on-farm emissions, which could also reduce emissions taxes.

Levy money collected would be invested in research, development and education for the sector and it was recommended that there be a dedicated fund for Maori landowners.

He also wanted a supervisory board that would work with an independent Maori council to recommend levy rates and prices and decide what to do with levy revenue.

Chairman Michael Ahie said the recommendations would have an expected methane reduction of 4-4.5%.

He said implementing the recommendations would incur costs and that throughout the consultation period there had been “pretty solid and sensitive conversations”.

However, he said throughout his career in agriculture that he had “never seen such collaboration”.

“We all strongly believe that this is the best approach to pricing agricultural emissions.”

He said there was “no doubt that putting 23,000 farmers into a system is complex”, so they would roll out the centralized calculator in a phased approach.

The Green Party spoke out against the recommendations soon after, saying they left more questions than answers.

Agriculture spokesman Teanau Tuiono said it was unclear “whether the sector’s proposals will actually help them shift to low-emission and regenerative farming practices”.

“It seems the industry has missed an opportunity to come up with a solid plan. It’s like they’ve been given a pass and they’re using it to shake up classes.

“The report itself admits that further work is needed on many of its key proposals. Time is running out for the climate. There are only eight lambing and calving seasons left before the 2030 target deadline for methane. »

Mark Cameron of ACT said farmers should not be forced into an emissions pricing system until there are “credible and practical methane mitigation technologies”.

“We’re glad the government hasn’t moved forward with a blunt tax at the processor level, but if the levers aren’t pulled to give farmers access to technology that can help them reduce their emissions, it will be unnecessary and will represent more costs on the sector that have kept us afloat throughout the Covid pandemic.

“The government has been mainly focused on how to price emissions and get farmers to cough up more money, but they should have been more concerned about how farmers can practically reduce emissions through technological advances without paying additional tax.”

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw welcomed the report ‘which has been ongoing since government, agricultural leaders and Maori people agreed on a first global partnership to reduce emissions of the primary sector in 2019″.

“We will take the time to carefully consider the report as well as the Climate Change Commission’s forthcoming advice on the proposals,” O’Connor said.

“The industry and the general public will have an opportunity to provide input before Cabinet makes final decisions towards the end of the year on how to price emissions effectively.”

Shaw said there’s “no doubt we need to reduce the amount of methane we put into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key role in how we will get there.”

In 2019, the government gave farmers until 2025 to implement farm-level pricing, as an alternative to including agricultural emissions in the emissions trading scheme.

Lana T. Arthur