Farmers warned 'voices getting louder' to reduce emissions

Whole milk powder prices dropped most at yesterday’s Global Dairy Trade auction, falling 4.4% to...
While the government has removed agriculture from the ETS and axed a group working to price on farm emissions global customers still want products with a lower footprint, Rabobank says. FILE PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
By Sally Murphy of RNZ

Farmers have been told if they snooze when it comes to reducing emissions they'll lose.

Rabobank chief executive Todd Charteris made the comments at the Primary Industries Summit in Wellington on Tuesday morning.

The rural lender has just released a new paper titled Maintaining Our Emissions Edge, aimed at helping New Zealand's 50,000 farmers and the wider agri-sector with the transition to producing more food with a smaller emissions footprint.

Charteris said while the government has removed agriculture from the Emissions Trading Scheme and got rid of the group working to price on farm emissions global customers still want products with a lower footprint.

"There are voices at the table that are getting louder. These are the voices of customers, the increasing expectations of the world's most powerful food processing and marketing companies, and voices from the wider supply chain, including investors, who also face significant regulatory pressure to minimise scope three emissions.

"A review by Chapman Tripp found that over 80 percent of New Zealand's exports are headed to countries with mandatory climate related disclosures that are either in force or on the way."

Charteris said on top of this, free trade agreements were increasingly loaded with enforceable obligations on emissions and other sustainability targets.

"When it comes to sustainability, it's way too early to hit the La-Z-Boy, if we snooze, we lose."

Charteris said the sector has been given a regulatory breather but it needs to use that wisely.

"At face value, New Zealand's 50,000 farmers and many in the wider food and agricultural sector now have an expanded window of opportunity to transition their businesses to a lower carbon future.

"However, it would be unwise for farmers and the government to just bank this time during this respite, and instead we need to prepare for the journey ahead to reduce emissions from New Zealand agriculture."

He said the country needed to create a national on-farm emissions measurement tool as there were currently too many calculators and groups working on the same thing.

Farmers who were working to reduce emissions needed to be rewarded with incentives and price premiums.

"We need a benchmark of what good practice and sustainable emissions look like."


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