Time for real action to curb ag emissions

A sharp rise in in agricultural emissions shows the National Party’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) must go and a meaningful carbon price be applied to the sector.

According to new Environmental Protection Authority data, agriculture’s greenhouse gas output rose 7 percent last year.

We cannot continue to ignore such a large and growing contributor to New Zealand’s emissions. The lack of a proper price signal in the sector means tens of thousands of hectares of forestry land are still being converted to dairy and emissions continue to climb.

This is exactly the wrong direction for emissions to be heading in. As climate change begins to bite, every sector should be brought in under a robust, transparent carbon pricing scheme.

We announced in June we’ll scrap the ETS and introduce a fair and transparent carbon tax, the revenue from which will all be returned to households and businesses in the form of tax cuts.

The tax would apply to emissions in the dairy sector, but at a reduced rate.

Agricultural emissions have more than doubled since 1990.We cannot keep using dairy as an excuse for inaction.

Every country faces a different and difficult set of circumstances when it comes to reducing carbon from their economies.

Precisely because we have unique challenges, we need to get on with it. It’s all the more reason not to delay.

The emissions trading scheme has failed. It was designed to incentivise emission reductions, investment in clean technology, and the planting of trees. It has done none of these things and it is costing ordinary New Zealanders.

National may be happy to ignore agriculture’s contribution to climate change but the Green Party is not.

We are the only political party offering voters a win-win plan this election that will protect our climate, achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and leave Kiwi families better off.


20 Comments Posted

  1. dbuckley,

    Technically correct but only from certified farms and no more then 5 litres per person for private consumption.

    Mind you we have a thriving (non taxed) black market operating not just in Canterbury but right throughout New Zealand.


    Add milk to the undeclared 2 year old’s in the back paddock for the “home kill” market and farming can be quite “tax free”. No wonder farm land is so expensive 😉 .

  2. Collapse and military / corporate take over are possibilities. One of the reasons why intelligent planning now is well overdue. Marketing cow’s milk is hardly a reason not to set a better, healthier and more sustainable direction.

  3. While a large part of our world buys the dairy farmers milk it will have a significant effect on economics here. The intention to make it sustainable and maybe help the economy to diversify could well be a chance to show the alternatives can work without social collapse. We have to show that level of aptitude in economic matters to be given a wider hand to play. A lack of care that creates social and economic hardship too extreme, we loose the chance to lead further. Social collapse will not create the environment to do something useful but just encourage military or extreme solutions.

  4. It seems to me that the focus on factory milk is got to be more energy intensive. Where and what are the ingredients and what is the waste chain?

    Innovation with land and resources will have to be our focus to counter our dependance on fossil biproducts. Shipping restraints will make economies of self reliance.

    We need planning and land market issues to divert our young scientists and entreupenuers to stay home and use their skills. It is relevant for their young families that government attitude is focussed on the issues.

    100 % Pure is working to now so lets just improve it with some honesty and less greed.

  5. Problem Gerrit, is that as soon as we are making the synthetic stuff we’ve lost the comparative advantage of being able to grass-feed our cows naturally.

    This is of course, not so much being “lost” as being hurled away with great force by the farming community, as more and more intensive agriculture becomes the norm.

    Ricardo, also known as pinwheel dave around here, is used as an excuse for what turns out to be a neo-liberal free-market-rules debacle. HE would not allow such a thing were he here. Hell, he’d have flogged off both Labour and National policies of the past 20 years as rubbish.

    Yet New Zealanders still think Key, who is successfully transforming the economy… into a third world rubbish heap… walks on water.

    This points up my other riff about New Zealanders (I can say this, I’m a citizen now!). It doesn’t matter how big the credibility gap is, they can always be counted on to provide the gullibility fill.

  6. dbuckley,

    Those who want the “real thing” can go to the farm gate and get it.

    No one cannot. It is illegal to sell unpasteurised cow milk. One cannot even make and sell cheese made from untreated cows milk.

    One can foresee the “artificial” milk will be sold in powdered form. Much like baby formulations are.

    Why buy water and expensive containers when powder is much more practical to package and ship.

    The “artificial” milk industry is one where NZL should be at the forefront.

    Sales pitch of “want the real product, yep can supply. Cant afford the real stuff how about this similar performance artificial powered product?”

    Cover all bases with milk supply plus addons of Yoghurt, Whey, Baby formulations, calcium enriched, etc., etc., artificial milk powders.

  7. Those who want the “real thing” can go to the farm gate and get it. Or perhaps the speciality milk isle at the supermarket, with prices to match.

    The rest of us will be drinking “milk” made in factories.

    Those making synthetic milk will get the same scrutiny as GE has.

    Don’t think so. Manufactured milk will be like margarine.

    I read something from the Farmers that say that this new stuff shouldn’t be called “milk”. We’ll see how that plays out.

    Writing on the wall. BJ understands. The risks to New Zealand are enormous. We need to stop vasselating about farming, as it will be a self solving problem, and actually do something else. And, preferably, several something elses.

    (Actually, they aren’t risks, they are issues, as the certainty of the risk eventuating is 100%)

  8. There are always people who will want natural products and industrial production has to compete too. I still believe the positive focus on land and opportunity diversity will see innovation into new markets such as possum and flax fibre.

    The cost of fuel/carbon will ensure that but we have to limit the random investment climate.

  9. Oldlux – that stuff is almost certainly coming unless the price of milk gets so low that it is cheaper to raise cows than yeast…

    Which means that the Vegans (this is actually being done to serve the vegetarian market first) are almost certainly going to have product in a couple of years and given their attention to “purity” they are apt to make some inroads into the market. Production at the industrial scale will take time to develop, but can very easily show up if the price differential is maintained.

    This is just another episode in New Zealand economic idiocy. We can make our way off the sheeps back… We can make our way through the export of milk solids…

    …it is the same story, repeated over and over. You do not create a working stable economy by building a monoculture. That is what Labour and National together have been doing since forever. It is what the vast majority of New Zealanders apparently think is our future.


  10. I think it is a terrible way to see the future for dbuckley. I don’t see why we have to say no dairying – just sensible sustained farming. I think a smart economic and constituional model allows a market to sell good produce and the needs of the common ecological and social aspirations. This would make the Greens more centrist than national.

    Those making synthetic milk will get the same scrutiny as GE has. We just have to sort out the environmental limits, and then value land at its’s productive value instead of the investment culture we have been fostering by allowing investment migration instead of the needed skills. This and some change to town planning priorities and the young can get on and improvise inside a set of sane priorities.

  11. Those who want to see the end of dairy may end up having their wishes come true.

    The tall foreheads have recently announced that they can synthesise milk in the lab, (this mob: Muufri) so its just a matter of time before rather than milk powder being shipped around by boat it’ll be made in-country in chemical plants.

    Just think, Canterbury will be covered in the carcasses of rusting Valley irrigators, as wave after wave of foreclosures make the banks the biggest owners of unwanted farmland in NZ’s history.

    So, if we’re lucky, we’ve got a decade, maybe two, and then the farming emissions will be gone, and runoff polluting our streams will be history.

    Great times ahead, yes?

  12. I don’t think the Greens have said this but I am only a supporter nowdays, but I would imagine ecological and economic processes will do that anyway, as per my example. In a fair society, those causing the damage should pay – this makes the greenhouse emitters pay so other land use methods of a more sustainable nature would thrive.

    Further to my example, the same farmer was approached by Agresearch often as the dry spells hit, to get ideas to manage the hurdles, as he is excellent with pasture and feed management. Pastures were initially running so well we had surpluses stored as silage early but the soil couldn’t keep up and he had clue enough to protect his livelihood. He was two years in a row in the top finalists of the BNZ Farm Business Awards so he should be considered a farm leader – he wasn’t a member of Federated Farmers.

    My belief from all this is the farmers with any clue will be changing direction and putting their efforts into setting up to handle drier times, he used to scoff about climate change at first but not now.

  13. So, lets be clear, I said: If it is the Green Party position that New Zealand should reduce the size of its milk business, then say so.

    Do you agree with this statement? Does it reflect your position?

  14. dbuckley Green house gases are an unsustainable process of society and farming. My example of stock numbers directly relates to the amount of fuel used making and harvesting crops for cows. Any increase in cow numbers in a system already at it’s peak increases this fuel usage. So does carting the feed to housing barns.

    My comment about soil compaction and runoff is directly related in two ways.

    2/3 of the earths breakdown of CO2 is done by sea organisms. Anything compromising this ecological system threatens the Climate if CO2 is not recycled. The rivers run downstream and many farmers ignore this.

    If the feed needed by stock is put to a limit by intense methods, then less stuble is left to become waste, which improves the soil texture and keeps CO2 in the soilsystem longer as fibre – Organic systems are shown to release less carbon to the atmosphere.

    This concept that things aren’t relative or connected is not born out by physics or common sense. To me it is tired or self centred minds that fail to see this.

  15. Oldlux is adding two plus two and getting seven.

    I too believe that a lot of farming practices are unsustainable, but unsustainable farming practices have little to do with greenhouse gas emissions, the vast majority of which are linearly related to how many animals there are.

  16. I think if dbuckley were to look at policy about water, climate change etc. it is obvious that the Greens see a lot of present practises as unsustainable. Science is showing this and this is born out by the scientific comment about water standards.
    I feel it is only a smart move to put a lid on new development while we sort out what is adequate. Putting the production of present holders in jeopardy by allowing more foreign capital to dairy farm more sensitvie environments makes no sense.
    I worked for many years for a Dairy farmer doing a semi-intensive winter milk production. After about 5 years the paddocks weren’t springing back as fast after grazing and started growing more problem weeds. I mentioned that the soil was looking tired and further investigation with soil density testing showed the extra cows were compacting the soil.
    He has subsequently cut back herd numbers and gone back to seasonal milking to give the soil a chance to bounce back. This will also help nutrient runoff as the tighter soil absorbed less.

    The great thing, he will make nearly as much or the same money with a lot less work and expense making and carting supplement feed.It is a myth that farmers will make less or go broke.

    What this does is lower the expectation of those funding this !!growth!! as less borrowing will be needed to change infrastructure.

    So all this fear mongering by your type of comment is the sort of thing you get from minority fringe parties. We are already to make losses as an economy by lack of action on climate gases so any so called benefit of expansion is negated.

  17. …tens of thousands of hectares of forestry land are still being converted to dairy and emissions continue to climb.

    STOP PRESS!!! New Zealand is doing more dairy farming. Yes, we are.

    If it is the Green Party position that New Zealand should reduce the size of its milk business, then say so. Don’t disguise dairy as some collateral damage of environmental policy; be up front and honest.

    I personally don’t like the fact that (to mix my metaphors) New Zealand has so many of its eggs in the dairy basket, but the simple fact is, that it does. So, either, we accept that, and accept that the diary sector revenue generators fart a lot of greenhouse gasses, or we don’t, and we start shutting down the farms.

  18. Good comment Kennedy. It is ironic that the sector’s most likely effected by the climate are the ones doing the worst at changing direction. The Lochinvar sale to a foreign company with dairy interests allows this company to push us further in the wrong direction as they convert to dairying. This negates at a large scale the positive steps responsible farmers are making, and the investment should be spent in China cleaning up their smog. Priorities here are definitely sick.

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