Farmers and growers say it will ensure they stay viable and the industry competitive, scientists say it addresses an issue that has been long ignored and environmentalists say it is an innovative and pragmatic solution.
The agreement means agriculture will not join the Emissions Trading Scheme but instead the sector will work with the Government to reduce emissions.
The Government says the ETS was developed for a small number of big companies, not tens of thousands of individual entities.
The primary sector also welcomed the decision not to impose a processor levy on farm produce from 2020 to 2025 provided farmers and growers make progress on lowering emissions. Progress will be assessed in 2022.
“We are pleased that the Government has recognised that it does not make sense to bring agriculture into the ETS and that we have a pathway to work with the Government to develop a more appropriate framework,” the Primary Sector Group said.
“We welcome this pragmatic and sensible decision by the Government to work in partnership with industry to achieve tangible on-farm change and hope that it might provide a blueprint for the way we work together to solve environmental challenges in the future.”
The 11-member group has committed $25m over five years to achieve the goals. Members are Apiculture NZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association, Deer Industry NZ, Federation of Maori Authorities, Foundation for Arable Research, Federated Farmers, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ and the Meat Industry Association.
Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says his organisation remains opposed to entering the ETS because it not work for the sector.
“We need more tools in the tool box. We are looking forward to exploring all these avenues further with the Government.
“New Zealanders also need to realise that any reduction in emissions achieved here through reduced production will likely only be replaced with production in countries that have higher emissions per unit of output and usually by subsidised farming sectors.”
Hort NZ chief executive Mike Chapman also welcomed the agreement saying his organisation is already working with growers to address climate change issues using technology.
“Our industry’s biggest challenge is to be as effective as possible with fertiliser application.
“This is why research and development and tech transfer in the area of precision horticulture are so important.”
Climate Change Research Institute director Professor Dave Frame welcomed the news saying for too long the issue has not been addressed.
“For too long we have circled the drain on agricultural climate change issues so it is great to see a sensible, practical, scientifically defensible deal being worked out.
“The Government deserves credit for listening to good scientific and policy advice and for being prepared to reject outdated approaches.
“Farming leaders deserve credit for listening to the science and developing practical plans that put their sector on a path to a healthier planetary future.”
NIWA’s chief climate scientist Andrew Tait says the organisation is keen to help.
“Our scientists have world-leading expertise in very accurately measuring atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations using a range of instruments and techniques and we are already thinking about novel ways of using and adapting these systems for paddock and farm-scale application.”
While welcoming the agreement Environmental Defence Society chief executive Gary Taylor was sceptical the 10% methane reduction target by 2030 will be met given the overall poor response of the sector with respect to the freshwater challenge.