Groundswell NZ's Alternative Solution for emissions pricing

Agriculture Emissions Workable Solution

After careful review of the pricing options, it has become obvious to Groundswell NZ that He Waka Eke Noa has been shifted from its founding principle, to incentivise uptake of new technology and management, towards a broad-based tax on farming.

The pricing options currently proposed will allow the Government of the day to tax farmers at a price level of their choosing. If these options proceed, He Waka Eke Noa emissions pricing will not be based on agriculture’s effect on climate, but rather set to achieve arbitrary government targets, which have no basis in science.

Our proposal is in three parts:

  1. Farmers are already addressing emissions and our integrated Environmental Policy and Action Framework (EPAF) proposes immediate action to build on this momentum.
  2. Recognising the current lack of alternatives to addressing emissions, Groundswell NZ proposes the agriculture sector adopt a short-term research fund to develop credible emissions reduction alternatives within the He Waka Eke Noa framework. Options for funding include utilising the existing industry group levy structure.
  3. This would be followed by a more comprehensive emissions scheme, developed once appropriate, to subsidise and incentivise new management and technology uptake. This would allow time to investigate and test viable solutions.

This would achieve a majority of the expected HWEN emission reductions with a fraction of the cost.

By setting price signals on emissions without establishing credible, workable options to reduce emissions, He Waka Eke Noa would be forcing farmers and growers to reduce stocking rates and productivity. Since foreign, less carbon-efficient agriculture sectors would just fill the gap New Zealand agriculture would leave, the price signals would lead to an increase in global emissions.

The Levy bodies (including DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb) would take a leading role alongside other governmental organisations in investigating the most efficient pathways to achieving emissions reductions, while maintaining productivity and reasonable profitability. They would also lead on providing proven best practice management examples and encourage uptake during the research phase.

He Waka Eke Noa modelling shows a significant majority of emissions reductions will be achieved through research and new technology. All emissions related revenue gathering should be focused where it will achieve the most.

Groundswell NZ does not support a punitive emissions pricing scheme that would see farmers paying up to $600 million per year for a negligible reduction in emissions.

New Zealand Integrated Environmental Policy Framework

A new approach to addressing our environmental issues.

One of the main concerns for farmers and the wider business sector is the extent of unworkable environmental policies and regulations coming from the government. Research has shown this is causing significant issues for rural mental welfare, loss of confidence in the future of agriculture in New Zealand, and farmers of all ages exiting the industry.

The cumulative amount of compliance has brought the rural sector to a tipping point.

Evidence has also shown that many of the policies and regulations are worse for the environment. A significant cause of this is policy making in silos. This is delivering perverse outcomes and unintended consequences, not to mention the duplication of work and the huge waste of time and money. By way of example, Conflicting policies already cause both the loss of productive farms and the destruction of native shrub lands, because climate change policies incentivise the large-scale planting of pine trees.

Groundswell's Proposal
Groundswell NZ believes all farmers and growers should be proactive in addressing our environmental challenges and that the vast majority are already on board with that aim. However, farmers are fed up with central government dictating one size fits all, top-down, impractical regulations and stripping local government of the flexibility to tailor policy to their own areas.

Farmers deserve an opportunity to develop grassroots solutions first before top-down policy is enacted.

The major change Groundswell is proposing is to link all environmental issues into one integrated policy framework. Nature and farms do not exist in silos – everything is interconnected. In that respect, we share a similar ethos to the Māori concept of Mauri (the essential quality and vitality of a being or entity).

There are already hundreds of farmer-led initiatives addressing environmental issues and the momentum is growing. We are proposing legislation that reflects and builds on what is already happening on the ground.

Environmental Policy needs to be more focused on achieving environmental outcomes, rather than making rules.

The essence of integrated management is covering all environmental issues with a strong focus on achieving positive outcomes and avoiding unintended consequences or perverse outcomes.

Our proposal has massive benefits for farmers, the public, and the environment including:

  • Removing duplication
  • Huge cost savings for farmers and ratepayers
  • Rewarding, rather than penalising, environmental effort
  • Incentivising nature on farms to treat it as an asset, rather than a liability
  • Empowering farmers, which will achieve greater buy-in from them
  • Respecting the privacy and property rights of landowners
  • Replacing the controversial Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) policy with a new approach that works in partnership with landowners

The full integrated Environmental Policy Framework is still being developed. To make a considered contribution to Groundswell NZ's promotion of workable environmental regulations, contact us at groundswellnz2020@gmail.com.

Our message to farmers is that if we don’t take the initiative, the government will continue to dictate. This is an opportunity for us to control our destiny while looking after the environment under a workable legislative framework, but it needs widespread support to be realised. Our vision is for New Zealand farmers to continue to lead the world in caring for our environment.

Please use our tool to send a message to the He Waka Eke Noa Partnership in support of our proposal, and share the tool with every farmer, grower, and rural support business you know.