When I find myself driving through Clinton, I find I am often prompted by the team of five Clydesdale horses to think about our rich agricultural history.
It is no secret our agriculture industry is facing change at a faster rate than most in living memory. The increase in regulations by both regional and central government has been something many farmers are grappling with.
National has announced its plan to help New Zealand and the agriculture industry meet the obligations of the Paris Climate Agreement that National remains committed to.
National supports innovation in many areas of New Zealand, including encouraging our farmers to remain as innovative as they have been historically. National believes the solution to agriculture emissions is through technology rather than mass planting of pine forests for carbon.
National will give farmers the tools they need to reduce emissions, including a science-based basis of accurately measuring and accounting for all on-farm sequestration. This all begins with measuring farm-level emissions by 2025, alongside continued sector-led research and development in reducing greenhouse gases.
National has also announced that it will end the effective ban on GE and GM, with safeguards in place, to allow New Zealand farmers to access things like low-emission grasses and feed. It’s available in 35 other countries around the world including Australia and Canada; New Zealand is being left behind.
National is committing to having a split-gas approach to keep agriculture out of the emissions trading scheme (ETS), with fair and sustainable pricing to be set by 2030. A sensible approach will keep production here in New Zealand, where our farmers are among the most carbon-efficient in the world.
The price must remain in line with our major agricultural competitors and trade partners so as not to damage New Zealand’s international competitiveness
There will be limits on forestry conversions on high-quality land from 2024. Since 2017, there has been a significant increase in forestry being planted to earn ETS units; in 2021, about 50,000ha of sheep and beef farms were purchased for forestry.
While forestry is important, it is short-sighted to rely on converting productive farmland to carbon forestry.
To protect our productive farmlands, from 2024, National will introduce limits on new plantings on converted farmland from entering the ETS. Limits will be based on land use capability, a measure of land quality.
National will also review the methane targets in 2024 for consistency with no additional warming from agriculture.
National’s plan will help our farmers get the recognition they deserve for the incredible jobs they do and ensure we can continue to access international markets and receive good prices for what we produce while meeting our net zero target by 2050.