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Reducing livestock’s emissions shadow

Media Release
18 December 2009

Reducing livestock’s ‘not so long’ emissions shadow

Federated Farmers has enthusiastically welcomed news that the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases is starting to get the financial means to take flight, with over $200 million pledged from New Zealand, the United States and Canada.

“Federated Farmers has pushed for a united effort into research and the Government as well as the Prime Minister must be commended for pulling this off. It’s a big coup,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

“We’re ecstatic to see the United States contributing $125 million worth of research over four years, while the Canadians contribute $27 million over five years. That comes on top of the $45 million New Zealand is pledging over a four year period.

“Instead of an efficiency transfer scheme perhaps the world is waking up to what an ETS should stand for and that’s efficiency, technology and science.

“The world wants to know that our natural resources are being used wisely and efficiently. New Zealand farmers are already doing that but achieving even more resource efficiency requires some serious investment in science and research. The collaborative Global Research Alliance is a great initiative.

“I just shudder to think how much has been spent on developing policies rather than actually researching solutions. I mean, how much has the entire Copenhagen summit cost? On the other hand, the sums we are talking about are really quite modest. Research is being conducted on the smell of an oily rag.

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“I endorse former New Zealand Prime Minister and UN development programme head, Helen Clark’s description of Copenhagen as “WTO meets Woodstock”. All I have to say to that is, we farmers are a doin’ while it seems others are just a tripin’.

“The proposed annual spend by the New Zealand Government on agricultural emissions research approximates to the sum Wellington City Council will be spending just to make Manners Mall bus friendly. Meanwhile, New Zealand farmers are contributing more than $90 million to primary sector and food research.

“Intellectual property will likely be seen as a global good but there will be massive spin-offs domestically if the ruminant centre is centred in New Zealand. What we need is for the signatories – India, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Chile, Colombia, France, Ghana, Malaysia, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Uruguay and Vietnam – to stump up with research monies.

“Yet agriculture still seems bedevilled by that discredited 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation report, Livestock's Long Shadow. It wrongly claimed livestock was responsible for more emissions than transport

“The truth is that livestock’s ‘not so long shadow’ is 12 percent globally, which isn’t bad when you’re feeding 6.7 billion people and we’ll need to double food production over the next four decades.

“The problem with New Zealand is our fixation with our emissions output that emphasises the negative but overlooks the positive. The positive being the tens of millions of people we can feed around the world. With over 90 percent of our food exported, New Zealand agriculture has slashed its emissions growth without compromising productivity.

“We are seen internationally as leaders in efficient resource use but politicians struggle to tell that same story domestically and that’s got to change,” Mr Nicolson concluded.


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