OPINION: Over the next couple of months, farmers will be invited to have their say on He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) - the agreemnet between the Government and primary sector to tackle farm emissions - which could well be the most imporant thing they do in 2022.
For many farmers this will be Hobson's Choice; akin to asking them which foot they want shot off, the left or the right - particularly when most of their overseas competitors are not paying for on farm emissions.
According to the self-appointed Primary Sector Climae Action Partnership - a group made up of Beef+Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and government and iwi representatives - farmers have been given two options to choose from or face being dumped into the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS).
The two options are either a farm-level levy or a processor-level levy. The former will see emissions calculated using farm-specific data, so an individual farm will pay a price for its net emissions. This option would reward small woodlots and riparian planting - on top of that currently included in the ETS - to offset some of the cost of the emissions levy.
The second option would calculate emissions for meat, milk, and fertiliser at processor level, with the processor charging farmers based on the quantity of product supplied, or fertiliser purchased.
Both options take a split-gas approach, acknowledging that short-lived gases like methane have a different warming impact to long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, and the price for methane will be separate and delinked from the carbon price.
Al this stems from the ridiculously named He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) programme - a moniker that may please our politically-correct Government, but something your average farmer has little knowledge of what it actually is. That's a pity as HWEN is a good idea.
Unfortunately, the over-riding desire of the current farming sector leadership to curry favour with the current Government means they blew any practicality and pragmatism, or chance of having HWEN widely understood, in an attempt to be seen as culturally inclusive. Perhaps that explains Feds' less than enthusiastic endorsement like Groundswell has suddenly appeared on the scene.
Farmers will have the opportunity to give their feedback in February when Beef+Lamb, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers undertake a nationwide roadshow. They should take the time between now and then to study the options, propose changes and let their farming leaders know what they really think.