Voters will in October determine the shape of agricultural greenhouse gas pricing after the government on Friday surprised the sector with a new policy.
Primary sector leaders were told at 4.30pm on Thursday details of new government policy that was released at 1pm the next day.
“The timing of the announcement was most frustrating,” Beef + Lamb NZ (BLNZ) chair Kate Acland said.
The sector and the government met at National Fieldays and again in July but there was interaction or indication with primary sector leaders ahead of Friday’s announcement.
Acland said the policy’s focus on determining a price for agricultural greenhouse gases was contrary to what should be the primary goal: reducing emissions.
“What are they trying to achieve?
“Pricing emissions will not give us the outcome we want, which is lower methane emissions whatever they are.”
Acland told Farmers Weekly that BLNZ wants a system developed for measuring and reporting emissions and a review of methane targets using the latest scientific knowledge.
Last Friday Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced a delay to the requirement to report farm-level emissions by almost a year to the end of 2024, and said the pricing of those emissions will start in late 2025.
Pricing will be at farm level and set at the lowest level needed to meet reduction targets.
The policy includes the development of a system to measure emissions using a split gas approach and the inclusion of scientifically validated on-farm sequestration in the Emissions Trading Scheme.
But a review of methane targets and their impact on global warming, requested by BLNZ and Federated Farmers, was not included.
The National Party policy is to start measuring farm-level emissions from 2025 and to start pricing by 2030 using a split gas approach.
The policy is that price would be set at a level that would not reduce production in NZ and encourage it to move offshore.
It also promises to review methane targets, lift the ban on genetic modification technology to unlock potential mitigation options, and allow scientifically accepted on-farm sequestration.
The party’s agriculture spokesperson, Todd McClay, said in an interview that it was unusual that O’Connor was left to announce what is climate change policy without the Climate Change Minister James Shaw or Prime Minister Chris Hipkins standing alongside.
It was also telling that no one from the primary sector or He Waka Eke Noa was at the announcement, he said.
“We’ve gone from ‘all in this together and on track’ approach to O’Connor making the announcement himself, which indicates this is a ‘what we’re doing to do’ announcement.”