Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Member anger fuels Feds fire

Neal Wallace
Federated Farmers comes out swinging on emissions proposals.
Federated Farmers chair Andrew Hoggard doubts the organisation’s logo will appear on the HWEN submission to the government, saying it needs room to reflect members’ demands for stronger opposition.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cracks are appearing in the He Waka Eke Noa partnership, with Federated Farmers intending to take a more confrontational approach with the government over the way it proposes to price agricultural emissions.

The federation’s national council has endorsed a recommendation that the organisation resists two of the government’s measures: methane reduction targets and the risk of carbon leakage.

Feds president Andrew Hoggard said the organisation has not left He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) but intends to make its own submission on the government response to the partnership’s proposal, which he promises will be combative.

Hoggard said the federation will endorse the elements of the HWEN submission it supports but doubts its logo will appear on the HWEN submission.

He said his organisation needs room to reflect members’ demands for stronger opposition to the proposal.

“We can’t sign up farmers knowing all the pain they will suffer in the hope a silver bullet will come along or the government will ignore what it wants to put in place,” he said.

“We can’t accept that they put out a document that said 20% of sheep and beef farmers will be put out of business so they can meet a target.”

In a further sign of a hardening of attitudes towards the government’s response to HWEN, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel didn’t pull any punches in a social media post this week.

“We have been quite clear that no deal is better than a bad deal,” he said on Twitter.

“We cannot be part of something that has a high likelihood of undermining all farmers, growers and rural communities and is ultimately bad for NZ.”

Hoggard said the federation wants the government to review its methane targets, saying they should be linked to what is required to ensure there is no additional atmospheric warming.

“We want to see targets that are based on science, not plucked out of the air are these were.”

The government targets are for a 10% reduction below 2017 levels by 2030 and 24-47% lower than 2017 levels by 2050.

Hoggard said to endorse those targets without mitigation options would push farmers out of business and lead to emissions leakage with animal protein production increased in countries that are less efficient than NZ.

Asked if he expects the current government will review those targets, he said it is unlikely, but the stance is also designed to prompt opposition political parties to state their position.

The federation is of the view that the GWP* measuring system, in which methane emissions expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent are more closely aligned to temperature response, would require sector reductions of about 0.3% a year.

That degree of reduction is consistent with the Paris Agreement, which seeks to restrict warming to 1.5degC.

HWEN programme director Kelly Forster said the partnership’s steering group is working on a joint submission in response to the government’s proposals, but they have agreed that each partner organisation can also make their own submission.

“We are aware partners are working on their submissions. For example, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and Beef+Lamb are talking to farmers across the country to gather their views to include in their submissions,” she said in a statement.

“The partnership has always provided room for each partner organisation to reflect the views of the people they represent in their own way, and that continues to be the case.”

A spokesperson for Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, who is overseas, said: “Ministers welcome all submissions and will take advice on them from officials.”

Last week, Federated Farmers national board member William Beetham resigned from the board, although the reasons are not being revealed.

Beetham, who was chair of the Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Industry Group, directed inquiries to Hoggard, who declined to give reasons, saying he was respecting a request for confidentiality.

Toby Williams is the federation’s acting Meat & Wool chair until an appointment is formalised.

People are also reading