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Public Share Farmers’ Methane Pricing Misgivings

A new poll shows it’s not just farmers who question government moves to make New Zealand the first country in the world to tax livestock methane emissions.

The latest Curia survey of 500 New Zealanders, which has a margin of error of +/- 4%, found 57% did not support taxing animal methane before other countries. Only 26% said they did (17% were ‘unsure’).

Asked if the policy should go ahead if it meant reducing food production or increasing global emissions, support for pricing agricultural emissions dropped to less than a quarter.

Talk of a rural-urban divide is clearly not evidenced by these numbers, Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

"It seems no matter where you are in New Zealand, you are against the proposed methane tax."

Kiwis would no doubt have been very concerned by the economic numbers put out by the government showing over a fifth of sheep and beef production would be lost under a pricing system linked to a 10 per cent methane target with a deadline just seven years away, Andrew said.

"I think the ‘lose-lose’ message Feds has promoted from day one is getting through.

"New Zealand’s farmers lead the world in producing meat and milk with the lowest emissions footprint. If they’re pushed into reducing production by new taxes, and that shortfall on international markets is picked up by less emissions-efficient farmers, global warming increases and we’ve hammered our domestic economy for no gain."

Another finding from the Curia survey should be reason for politicians to heed Federated Farmers’ repeated calls for a review of the current unscientific and unnecessarily methane targets, Andrew said. The poll found only 36 per cent of Labour voters supported pricing agricultural emissions. Importantly, 60 per cent of undecided voters were against pricing agricultural emissions.

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Federated Farmers has also conducted a survey of its own members. Initial responses from more than 1500 farmers - our highest poll return this year - shows deep disquiet with the direction of agriculture emissions policy. More than 74% of farmers want a pricing policy that is better aligned with the original stated aims of the He Waka Eke Noa agreed 2019 industry proposal to Government. This proposal stated:

The primary sector will work in good faith with government and iwi/Maori to design a practical and cost-effective system for reducing emissions at farm level by 2025. The sector will work with government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to support on-farm practice change, set at the margin and only to the extent necessary to incentivise the uptake of economically viable opportunities that contribute to lower global emissions. The primary sector’s proposed 5-year programme of action is aimed at ensuring farmers and growers are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver emissions reductions while maintaining profitability.

The Government's planned emission tax clearly contradicts this He Waka Eke Noa proposal, made in good faith by industry in 2019. This proposal was accepted by the Government in a parliament press conference, and Federated Farmers is unsure when the Government made the decision to break this ‘historic’ partnership promise.

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