Federated Farmers supports the need for action to address climate change but says New Zealand’s responses should be practical, cost-effective and based on sound research.
Delegates representing 24 branches around the nation unanimously passed a 12-point Federated Farmers Policy on Climate Change in Wellington last week.
“The scientific consensus is that climate change is happening and that humanity, including agriculture, contributes,” the policy states.
The 13,000-member farmer group called for greater investment in research efforts to reduce biological agricultural emissions. It was worth accessing all the tools of modern biology, including biotechnology, but the measures should be cost-effective and not at the expense of farm productivity.
The Paris agreement also gives priority to food security and production, recognising the dual challenge of controlling global temperatures and feeding a growing population.
New Zealand farmers are world-leading carbon efficient protein producers so it makes no sense to include our agricultural biological emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme until there are effective mitigation tools, and our international competitors are likewise included.
“We would otherwise simply be exporting production to other less efficient players, making the global environmental problem worse, not better,” Federated Farmers climate change portfolio leader Anders Crofoot says.
Federated Farmers sees co-benefits from managing the cross-over between climate change and other policy issues. For example, research into better understanding the nitrogen cycle could lead to reductions in nitrous oxide emissions as well as the nitrate leaching that affects waterways.
Soil erosion control plantings in hill country and riparian planting will sequester emissions, reduce sedimentation and phosphate in streams and rivers, and also achieve biodiversity objectives.
Farming’s need to remain viable requires an exploration of the implications of the threats and opportunities arising from a changing climate, Mr Crofoot says.