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ETS report not welcomed by farmers

MEDIA RELEASE

 

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31 August 2009

 

ETS report not welcomed by farmers

Federated Farmers has not welcomed the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Review Committee’s report, as it still recommends the inclusion of the agricultural sector.

“If the ETS was a sheep, I’d have it put down.  Including agriculture is like having a loaded gun pointed at your head, with a finger on the trigger We still have to look at the detail of this report, but as far as we are aware no other country on the planet is looking to include agriculture like New Zealand is,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

“New Zealand produces food for a growing world but, with the ETS as it is, there is little a farmer can do but de-stock.  This would be like the whole country being in drought, with the resulting environmental, economic and social problems spread across all New Zealanders.

“The Ministry of Agriculture (MAF) estimate the drought cost the country over $28 billion and we know that the reduced payout is costing farmers over $4 billion per year.  There is no doubt this affects every New Zealander. Having a scheme that adds to and locks in such negative economic outcomes is simply irresponsible.

“If we look across the Tasman to Australia’s ETS, it is now in some strife.  Australia’s first attempt at an ETS was voted down by its Senate two weeks ago with a second attempt ‘expected‘ in December. They are taking a cautionary approach and so should New Zealand. Our Prime Minister has often talked about aligning the two systems.

“It also has to be remembered that excluding agriculture from the ETS doesn’t preclude New Zealand from meeting its current international commitments, while taking a pragmatic approach to our country’s future.  The Government, for instance, could purchase the cheapest Kyoto emissions units to meet future Kyoto liabilities through to 2012.  That could be reinforced by massive new Government-backed tree plantings on marginal land to create permanent forestry sinks. 

“Farmers are practical and happy to play their part where it makes sense. We know that this is about global emissions, not just New Zealand emissions. 

“Federated Farmers strong preference is for international cooperation on research to develop practical solutions that a tax, which the ETS effectively is, just can’t.  For example committing 0.05 percent of GDP to low carbon research will go so much further towards our continued existence as a species than any tax or target could ever do.

“Federated Farmers is prepared to look at all the options to ensure New Zealand remains a first world nation. For this occur agriculture, the country’s most productive and successful sector, must stay out of the ETS,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

ends

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