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Farmers have chance to direct research funding

Farmers have chance to direct research funding

Farmers could still have a say on the best way of funding, collecting, and administering the agricultural research levy, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said no decisions had been made yet on those issues. Submissions were being accepted till the end of this month.

The pastoral agriculture sector was being exempted from emissions charges under the Kyoto Protocol, on the basis that there was no measures currently to stop ruminant animals belching methane and nitrous oxide. However, he said, that was on the basis that the industry would fund sufficient research into ways to reduce those emissions.

Industry was funding about $800,000 at the moment, but more was needed.

"Climate change is probably the most serious environmental problem facing the world, and in New Zealand, about half of the climate-changing greenhouse gases are produced by pastoral agriculture. We have to address that.

"This is a serious issue, and people shouldn't be put off by the thought of people in other countries having a giggle. We are probably the only developed country in the world so reliant on pastoral agriculture. More than half our export earnings come from it. We have to tackle the issue ? we can't wait for others to do it."

Mr Sutton said the sector could explore the possibility of getting private investors to put more money into agricultural greenhouse gas emissions research.

"The Government funds about 90 per cent of all greenhouse gas research. The private sector needs to provide another $8.4 million to improve the chances that emissions reductions can be achieved ? in return, pastoral agriculture won't bear the cost of the growth in its emissions.

Farming organizations should explore whether there are private sector investors willing to take this on."

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