The Government has launched a plan aiming to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade.
In an open letter penned to Ardern last week, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle, Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor and Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Richie urged her to rethink the inclusion of agriculture in an emissions trading scheme (ETS).
They urged Ardern to support He Waka Eke Noa, the primary sector climate change commitment.
They described the initiative as “an innovative and world leading statement from the primary sector”.
“We believe this will be more effective than taxing the sector via a levy on processors through the Emissions Trading Scheme.
“The primary sector remains committed to working in good faith with your Government and Maori to implement a practical and cost effective system for reporting, reducing, and then pricing emissions at farm level by 2025.
“This approach will drive the right behaviour change and achieve reductions in emissions in a more meaningful way, which will be critically important to enable a smooth transition for the agricultural sector.”
The open letter says the industry is proud of the environmental improvements made by successive generations of farmers.
It says that, like Ardern, farmers also want future generations to benefit from and enjoy the environment NZ has today.
“The way we farm has changed significantly for the better over the years and we know that we need to continue to develop, improve and adapt moving forward.
“That’s why we have looked to work constructively with the Government over the past few months to help drive the best possible outcome on climate change for the country.”
DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, the Meat Industry Association and eight other primary sector organisations developed He Waka Eke Noa, the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment as a collaborative proposal with the Government and Maori to help achieve a low carbon future.
“We firmly believe that New Zealand can make the fastest progress towards managing our agricultural emissions by establishing a farm based framework focused on practical change.
“Our farmers are committed to on farm changes that will reduce emissions, but they need to be supported by good policies, technology, R&D and transitional measures.”
In a statement to Rural News, Ardern acknowledged that many farmers are already doing good work on their farms to reduce their environmental impact.
“We welcome their ongoing commitment to a really important long term challenge for the Government and the farming sector,” Ardern said.
“We start from a point of agreement on the outcome – that the Government and farmers want emissions calculated at farm level where they can manage their own emissions on their property.
“I am glad New Zealanders are taking part in the consultation on the options.”