Tuesday, 03 July 2018 10:55

Farmers not alone on climate change

Written by  Peter Burke
James Shaw. James Shaw.

Farmers more than any other New Zealanders will be negatively impacted by the effects of climate change, says Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

Speaking to Rural News at Fieldays, Shaw noted how this is already happening -- droughts, floods, fires and storms. He says farmers are not in this alone and he understands that many farmers feel unfairly singled out. 

But Shaw is equally worried that Auckland city’s transport emissions have risen 24% while NZ’s methane emissions have not risen as much. 

He says everyone needs to do their bit and work together. “We know that farmers best understand what happens on a farm and on land,” he says. “I see my job as doing what I can to support farmers and the agricultural sector to make a transition.” 

Shaw believes what is happening now gives NZ one of the greatest opportunities in a generation. Many environmental problems and challenges remain to be overcome, he says, but the solutions are coming in the form of science and technology. As for NZ’s primary exports, they must move from volume to value.

“Science plays a big part with consumers of our food exports. The markets we sell into are getting increasingly sophisticated at the price point we want to attract,” he told Rural News. 

“We are talking about people making decisions based on a whole set of values, not just price, because they are quite prepared to pay a premium. So where their product comes from is becoming increasingly important to them.”

Consumers in some markets are swapping information by cellphone, Shaw says. They photograph the barcode of a product and trace that back to the farm it came from.

“This is amazing and quite a technological challenge for us, but it’s one we are leading the world in. Consumer demand changes all the time and farming in NZ has changed dramatically in response to that demand.” 

Shaw says NZ has adapted well to change and has a good idea of what consumers want.

“We just need to stay closely attuned to that because consumer demand is changing rapidly. We have to pay close attention to innovation and technologies inside NZ and what is happening overseas, to see what we can bring in to serve us well, and to be aware of what could be disruptive.” 

Shaw says while consumers may think specifically about intensive farming when buying milk or beef, they will be looking for some sort of certification to assure them that what they are buying is up to standard.

» Connect with Rural News

More like this

Saving us from ourselves

OPINION: The Government's policy to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand is working directly against the goals of the Paris Accord.

Seaweed could bust methane emissions

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is predicting huge international demand for a native seaweed if research proves its worth as a potential methane buster for agriculture.

» The RNG Weather Report

Featured

Soil moisture: no more looking over the fence

Farm manager Bryan Mitchell describes as brilliant the SCADAfarm systems that allow him to remotely monitor and manage the irrigation of his 300ha of leased grazing land near Kirwee.

 

Separation gives constant result

Effluent separation offers a number of unique advantages, and opportunities that other systems don’t offer, says farm equipment manufacturer Rakaia Engineering Ltd (REL) Group.

Making good use of green water

Reporoa farmer Alistair Neville is using the Tow and Fert range for more environmentally-friendly farming practices. 

Cultivating the right way

Cultivation of paddocks is common on farms at this time of year. It’s also a time when local storms may occur, adding substantial risk to an important farming practice.

» Connect with Rural News

» Connect with Rural News

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Job hunting?

A mate of the Hound reckons outgoing special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen, who is due to finish his current…

Hot air?

With the Government wanting to implement huge costs on the livestock farming sector by making New Zealand the only country…

» Connect with Rural News