Commission advice remains a big ask for farmers

9 June 2021

The Independent Climate Change Commission’s final advice to Government has kept the 2030 methane reduction target at 10 percent, but the job ahead remains a big ask for dairy farmers, according to DairyNZ.

“It is now up to the Government to deliver a credible emissions reduction plan for New Zealand – and the investment in tools and support required to achieve it,” said DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

“A 10 percent reduction for biogenic methane will be incredibly challenging for farmers, but we are committed to playing our part and reducing emissions alongside the rest of the economy.

“We are pleased the goalposts haven’t shifted from the Zero Carbon Act and farmers now have certainty they need to make long-term investment decisions.

“We agree with the Commission that New Zealand urgently needs a long-term plan for R&D investment from industry and government, to help us rise to the challenge.

“Investment in rural digital connectivity is also required to enable farmers to have better reporting and rapid uptake of new technologies to drive down emissions.

“Farm system improvements are needed for further integration of our dairy and beef sectors, and a look at all the options in the toolkit including review of regulatory barriers to adoption of new science.”

Dr Mackle said farmers are committed to doing their fair share and playing their part alongside the rest of the economy – but the work needs to be fairly spread.

“We do remain concerned agriculture may be asked to do the heavy lifting if we don’t see urgent action to reduce CO2 emissions. We are all in this together and we must have a fair and balanced plan that requires our communities to contribute equally.”

Dr Mackle said Kiwi dairy farmers are world leaders at producing sustainable and emissions efficient dairy products.

“Independent research shows our milk has the lowest carbon footprint in the world. On top of this, we have a credible plan in He Waka Eke Noa to manage, reduce and price agricultural emissions. We will be the only country in the world charging farmers to do this – elsewhere farmers are often paid to,” said Dr Mackle.

“Dairy currently makes up 34 percent of our total exports at $20b and we employ over 50,000 people. We’re looking to produce the same, or more, with fewer emissions and that is a big target for us to hit.

“We want to maintain our economic contribution to Kiwi communities and our position as the world’s most emissions efficient producer of milk. That means we need pragmatic targets and new technologies to support our farmers to keep up the good work.”

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