Suddenly everyone hates farming

Few people admire farming as we once did when we understood where this country’s wealth was created. On the contrary, farming has come under sustained attack, and from none more strongly than the National Party, once almost a fellowship of farmers and the industry’s staunchest supporter. Now our formerly admired farmers must tolerate the impending ETS tax on ruminant eructation, which farmers are helpless to reduce, yet for which they are further harassed by the modern epithet of “emitter”. As though those clean, natural gases could pollute the environment that has been creating them in vast quantities for millions of years. The “carbon tax” is a significant imposition, yet it’s hardly remarked upon except by those who strive to get it noticed and repealed — or others, apparently more numerous (certainly more vocal and popular with the media), who would gladly see it increased. The Coalition here rails against the unreasonable burden of an ETS which purports to “fight” in our name against so-called “anthropogenic global warming”. Do we still call it that? I guess this month’s stupid synonym is “climate disruption.” But since climate never goes for long without disruption the term defines tautology — how completely brainless to then declare it a crime and seek a culprit. (This press release first published on Scoop).

Press Release: New Zealand Climate Science Coalition

Friday, 16 September 2011, 5:08 pm

NZ farming remains at threat from ETS

“New Zealanders know that their prosperity relies heavily on the farm sector” says the Hon Barry Brill, chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, “and yet the biggest threat to the future of farming is an attack by our own Government.

“The Government’s ETS Review Panel has recommended that all individual farmers have their biological emissions taxed as from 2015.

“No other country, anywhere in the world, has even considered imposing a climate tax on food production. The challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2040 is almost universally seen as a much higher priority than a purely symbolic reduction in some animal emissions.

“On the contrary, our major trading partners – including USA and Australia – have introduced schemes to reward farmers for taking CO2 from the atmosphere.

“Why is New Zealand the odd man out? This masochistic approach had its genesis in the 2004 ambition of then-Prime Minister Helen Clark to lead the world’s first carbon-neutral country. ‘World leadership’ became the catch-cry.

“In most countries, fossil fuels make up the bulk of emissions. Because New Zealand has extremely low usage of coal and gas, animal emissions were targeted instead. By the curious logic of climate policy our animals are to be punished because we are world leaders in renewable energy,” said Mr Brill.

“Comparably strained logic drives the decision of the Review Panel. The following specific contradictory findings speak for themselves:”

  • By international standards, NZ meat and dairy products have a relatively low emissions intensity per unit of product.
  • Over the last 20 years there have been reductions (yes, reductions) of around 1.3% pa in emissions per unit of product.
  • Applying the ETS to agricultural emissions could lead to carbon leakage as production in other countries becomes more attractive.
  • The impact on the average dairy farmer is estimated at $11,200 pa, and sheep and beef farmer at $6,700 (excluding indirect effects).
  • Farmer levies have already funded $18 million of research into emission abatement options (taxpayers have spent another $67 million).
  • Commercial methods of mitigating methane emissions are a long way off.
  • Bringing agriculture into the ETS will encourage farmers to invest in the development of abatement technologies.

“So, the Panel recommends taxing an efficient industry already reducing its emissions, while acknowledging this could move food production from here to high-emission countries. The object is to make farmers invest in abatement research – which they are already doing,” Mr Brill concluded.


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11 Thoughts on “Suddenly everyone hates farming

  1. Andy on 19/09/2011 at 10:22 am said:

    NZ is approx 75% renewables. Therefore, we punish our farmers.

    Norway is 99% renewables. Do they punish their farmers? No, they don’t

    We are being taken for a massive ride. It is time to stop this nonsense.

  2. Jim McK on 19/09/2011 at 11:43 am said:

    Maybe not every one hates farmers. This looks like a major break through.

    Clearly Brian Fallow is not too happy. I presume the article concludes with his recommendations.

  3. Andy on 19/09/2011 at 11:54 am said:

    Quote from article:

    Emission-reducing technologies would be more readily adopted as they became available, if agriculture was in the ETS and there was a price on emissions, the panel said.

    But Rolleston said, “Any tools available are too variable or immature to meet the needs of farmers. Long-term solutions such as vaccines and genetics are several decades away from commercial deployment.”

    So one possible solution to this “problem” is GM, when you meet head-to-head with the environmentalists on one of their other favorite hobby horses.

    You can’t win.

    Scrap the whole lot – it’s the only way

  4. Jim McK on 19/09/2011 at 12:16 pm said:

    Yes but taking out most of Fallow’s spin:

    “The Government is over-riding the recommendations of the Caygill review of the emissions trading scheme, which would have seen agriculture treated the same as other export industries, and has deferred its entry into the scheme indefinitely.”

    “Climate Change Minister Nick Smith said agricultural emissions would be included only if “practical technologies are available to enable farmers to reduce their emissions and more progress is made by our trading partners to reduce their emissions”.

    Fallows adds “Both those conditions are such that people can argue about whether they are met until the cows come home.”

    Surely this is good news

    • Andy on 19/09/2011 at 12:27 pm said:

      Yes it is good news. Sort of reading between the lines, the National Party seem to be watering down the ETS without pissing off too many would be voters, yet seem to be leaving room to remove it, or parts of it, down the track.

      However, I am not going to be lured or lulled into a false sense of hope. These guys, once they have got a tax in place to pay for their army of bureaucrats, will be very reluctant to part company with it completely.

      It’s pretty incomprehensible that this Soviet-esque piece of legislation came from a supposedly centre-right government.

    • Clarence on 20/09/2011 at 2:26 am said:

      The government hasn’t considered the Panel’s recommendations yet, and Nick Smith is saying no more than he always has. They are pre-election weasel words and, as Fallow says:

      “Both those conditions are such that people can argue about whether they are met until the cows come home.”

      If Australia adopts a carbon tax, then “more progress” will have been made by trading partners. And the Panel finds that there will be sufficient technology to make a slow start in 2015 as planned.

      Even if National does decide to delay agriculture for a year or two, they are still committed to including it asap. Why?

      As long as the Act remains unchanged, taxing agriculture is a certainty when Labour returns to power.

  5. It could be good news, but one could take a narrow view of the clause:

    and more progress is made by our trading partners to reduce their emissions.

    Then one could take a similarly narrow view of “available practical technologies” to mean using vehicles with reduced emissions, for example.

    So all that could mean that, if Australia introduces their carbon tax, National might say “that’s enough”, and put farming into the ETS.

    So it might swing either way. I think the government’s leaving its options wide open.

  6. Jim McK on 19/09/2011 at 1:15 pm said:

    I think you guys are being too negative. The Government has just indefinitely postpone half the ETS scheme.

    I don’t see that Australia joining would change the “available practical technology” argument. From memory Australia are not planning on CH4 & N20 taxes. And in the context I read the tag regarding “trading partners reducing their emmissions” as meaning that if other countries don’t bring in CH4 and H20 then we won’t go out on that limb.

    • Ron on 19/09/2011 at 4:08 pm said:

      Given the idiotic nonsense we are seeing here and elsewhere I wouldn’t put it past someone trying to bring in taxes on “H20” 🙂 !

    • Clarence on 20/09/2011 at 2:35 am said:

      Jim McK – The Minister’s press release was carefully worded, and says nothing at all about what type of progress Australia and others need to make.

      Nick doesn’t want this to blow up into an election issue a few weeks before polling day. That’s why he sent back the 30 June Report of the Panel and didn’t release it until the RWC was under way. That’s why he uses soothing and meaningless words that he can’t be hung with post-November.

      The 2015 date is the law of the land. If the National Party had decided upon a formal policy to change the Act and extend the timing beyond 2015, we would have seen announcements by the PM and shouting from the rooftops in the rural media.

  7. Alexander K on 21/09/2011 at 3:20 am said:

    It seems some of our politicians are beginning to realise just how incredibly stupid the entire concept of ETS is and they are just beginning to creep very quietly away from it, but don’t want anyone to be aware that they are creeping away. With the growing number of peer-reviewed papers appearing that firmly identify cloud as the major factor in the natural control system affecting climate temperatures, reality appears to be intruding into the comic-book theories beloved of the Greens and changing the game.
    The scientifically-literate and intelligent faction of the community seems more and more aware of how serious and how silly the great CO2 con really is and they are beginning to make themselves heard. Waiting for the Herald to feature accurate science is a bit much to ask, though, given that organ’s apalling track record.

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