Friday, July 1, 2022

R&D funds welcomed

Industry bodies are pleased the Government has come to the party and committed $339 million for research and development to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, which will help New Zealand dairy farmers continue to perform at a high level.

Research from DairyNZ has already shown NZ farmers have the lowest carbon footprint for milk production on farms in the world and this funding will help them retain that competitive advantage – to continue contributing for their families, the economy and local communities.

“We already have a world-leading position with low carbon dairy and a world-first emissions reduction plan in He Waka Eke Noa. This new increased investment will help dairy improve our position even further,” DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says.

The Government funding includes the establishment of the new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions.

“Additional funding and the new centre will add to the significant investment already being made by the sector into R&D, so collectively it will accelerate the development of technology and tools to really drive further emissions reductions by the ag sector,” he says.

“Because Kiwi dairy farmers are already so efficient, there’s no silver bullet. We need new high-impact technologies and to accelerate their uptake to continue reducing our environmental footprint, while enabling farmers to run successful businesses.”

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says they are pleased the Government has recognised solutions to agricultural emissions lie in new technologies and tools, and is stepping up investment on that front.

“Nitrate and methane inhibitors, gene editing, animals bred for their lower methane ‘burping’ – they’re the kind of advances that will enable New Zealand’s farming sector to continue to perform for the nation’s economy while maintaining our world-leading meat and dairy carbon footprint,” Hoggard says

He also said it will be important to understand how the proposed new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions fits with existing bodies such as the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Pastoral GHG Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the international bodies New Zealand partners with, such as the Global Research Alliance.

“New Zealand farmers have been funding millions of dollars into greenhouse gas mitigation tools since 2003 via the PGGRC,” he says.

“It will also be crucial that our regulatory framework is worked on at the same time as acceleration of research and commercialisation of these tools so that when they’re ready, we can get on with using them.”

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard
Federated Farmers president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says New Zealand must look at all options to reduce greenhouse gases.

Industry bodies have been working with the Government to ensure they understand the scale of the climate change challenge affecting farmers, and the opportunity to remain world-leading sustainable dairy producers and have been advocating for more investment.

“DairyNZ has advocated strongly for the Government to invest significantly more in supporting the sector to play its part to address climate change. So it’s great to see our work on behalf of farmers coming to fruition,” Mackle says.

“We’ll continue to advocate for how this R&D funding is invested, as new solutions develop. This will bring the best outcomes for farmers and New Zealand into the future.”

The dairy sector has also invested in research into solutions, including methane inhibitors and low methane feeds and is working together on ways to adapt overseas technology solutions to NZ farming systems.

Hoggard says NZ must look at all options to reduce greenhouse gases.

“If we are not open to all solutions, we risk losing our world-leading emissions footprint as other countries embrace the innovation we are ignoring,” he says.

This article first appeared in the June 2022 issue of Dairy Farmer.

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