20 Oct 2016

Environment report takes 'right approach' - Farmers

6:37 am on 20 October 2016

Federated Farmers says the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report on climate change and agriculture is 'useful' and a 'good starting point'.

Dairy cow in field generic

Photo: 123rf.com

Methane and oxide from agriculture form about half of New Zealand's greenhouse gases - but are not part of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The report, by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, did not formally push for agriculture to become part of the scheme.

Read the full report online here

Instead she says the scheme is not the only way forward and other things can be done.

These 'other things' include ideas such as developing a methane-reducing vaccine, using more feed pads, cutting stock numbers on farms and planting more forests.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright at the release of her greenhouse gases report.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright at the release of her greenhouse gases report. Photo: Eric Frykberg

Federated Farmers vice president and climate change spokesperson Anders Crofoot said it was the right approach to a big issue.

"We've been looking at the issues for quite some time and one of the things that is really good is this report doesn't try and take the 'basket approach', which has been detrimental in having discussions in the past.

Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers vice president and climate change spokesperson.

Anders Crofoot Photo: Supplied

"It's starting to tease out what the detail is and that the different gases need different approaches, that's a very important recognition."

The report said that total emissions from agriculture in the last 25 years had increased by 15 percent, while at the same time emissions from road transport increased by 71 percent and industrial processing by 45 percent.

The Green Party said National needed to be straight-up with farmers and make it clear that business-as-usual farming could not continue, but Mr Crofoot said the report hit the right note.

"It's quite easy to get worked up and take an emotional approach to things and the PCE doesn't generally do that," he said.

"There are some areas that are probably a bit over-simplified, but if it is going to be something everyone is able to discuss then I think it is quite a good entry point."

New Zealand farmers are committed to leaving their land in as good, if not better, condition than they found it, said Mr Crofoot.

Labour Party Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods said New Zealand must begin the transition to lower-emission farm production systems.

"If the government continues to ignore the biological gases from agriculture they are putting undue pressure on other parts of the economy and are leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab."