Thursday, May 19, 2022

DINZ seeks viable GHG pricing options

The deer farming community is getting primed to speak up again to ensure it gets a fair deal on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Industry has made it clear it will not settle for any deal that will put the viability of deer farming at risk.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chair Ian Walker says the battle to get a GHG pricing system that is fair to deer farmers is far from over.

The big concern is for those deer farmers who have little or no opportunity to plant trees to offset their emissions. 

Aside from planting trees to sequester carbon, there are currently no GHG reduction technologies that deer farmers can apply on their farms, short of cutting their stock numbers.

More than 100 deer farmers provided DINZ with feedback on the options and many also provided their views direct to HWEN.

“To everyone who made their voices heard, thank you,” Walker said. 

“DINZ and the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA) have made their submissions to HWEN, but nothing beats feedback from an affected farming family.”

He said he has no doubt he will be asking farmers before the year is out to again make their voices heard.

“If agriculture enters the NZ ETS, or if the worst case HWEN scenarios come to pass, the impact on deer farm viability will be disastrous,” he said.

“We have made it clear to everyone who will listen that ways must be found to reduce agricultural GHG emissions that do not affect the viability of deer farming.

“But listening does not mean agreeing, let alone making the changes we seek, so we will be closely analysing HWEN’s final proposals after they are presented to the government on May 31, as well as the Government’s policy proposals when they emerge. 

“If we don’t like what we see, the deer farming community will once again need to speak up.”

Formal consultation on two pricing options developed by HWEN closed in late March.

Farming groups will next get a chance to have a say when government is expected to release HWEN’s final policy proposal in early June.

Walker is expecting a heated public debate when the Government consults the wider public about its proposals but, in the heat of the debate, he cautions deer farmers to remember the big picture – the need for agriculture to play its part in reducing GHG emissions.

“It’s the right thing to do, it’s what other New Zealanders expect of us,” he said.

“It’s what our markets expect of us, but the reduction targets adopted by government must be fair and farmers must have practical tools they can use to achieve those targets.”

DINZ has remained part of the HWEN process because it figures that it gets a better hearing than it would have if it had stepped outside the tent.

“Sure, the options HWEN put out for comment took little account of the interests or concerns of deer farmers, but by staying in the tent we have got HWEN to review the formula for calculating deer emissions, which unduly penalise deer,” he said. 

“It will also assist us to get deer farm emission charges to be balanced fairly between venison and velvet.”

The key GHG policy goals for DINZ include deer farmers being provided with the tools they need to reduce GHG emissions without affecting the viability of venison and velvet production, with reductions in emissions to be calculated and rewarded via a cost effective farm level system and the burden of emission levies to be shared fairly across all land-use industries.

He said DINZ will continue to work to help government find solutions that achieve GHG reductions while ensuring that deer farms remain viable.

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