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Source: Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers Federated Farmers is disappointed to see emissions trading reform legislation was passed last night without some of the serious concerns raised during consultation being fixed. 
“The economic repercussions of COVID-19 are squeezing businesses and households up and down the country. The last thing we need is more cost pressure for consumers – and for farmers – on prices for electricity, petrol, diesel and the like,” Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. 
“There has been no analysis undertaken since the pandemic on how sweeping changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will impact our economy, our international competitiveness, and therefore the standard of living enjoyed by all New Zealanders.” 
A particular concern for farmers is that the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill incentivises the acceleration of productive farmland being converted to pines planted not for wood but for carbon credits. 
“We lose farm production from that land, and thus export dollars. We lose real jobs, and the districts’ schools, contracting businesses and community networks are gutted. 
“With pine forests grown just to clip the carbon credit ticket, there’s no pruning gangs, no sawmilling jobs at the end of it. The mostly absentee owners will just plant the trees and close the gate, effectively abandoning the land from ever re-entering productive use. And nothing is actually achieved in terms of getting greenhouse gas emissions down. 
“Is that really in the nation’s best interests?” Hoggard asks. 
Some 70,000 hectares of productive sheep and beef land has already been converted to forestry since 2019, and carbon-related investment has been a major driver for this. 
As an alternative to putting agriculture in the ETS under a pointless processor-based levy, Federated Farmers is very pleased the government agreed to take up the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment. Otherwise known as He Waka Eke Noa, this encompasses sector-driven initiatives to account for, and drive down, emissions on farm. 
But Hoggard says despite pleas, the reform legislation fails to deal with something as basic as aligning the agreed He Waka Eke Noa milestones with the farm production year – the basis for farmers’ software systems – rather than the calendar year. It also shows bad faith by persisting with the inclusion of agriculture in the ETS as a ‘fall-back option’. 
“Federated Farmers will continue engaging in the He Waka Eke Noa partnership and will advocate for the development of a fit for purpose pricing mechanism that lowers global greenhouse gas emissions while not reducing food production. 
“Unfortunately, this ETS reform legislation hinders rather than helps that mission.”