Labour Party leader Phil Goff has defended his party's proposal to bring agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from farmed livestock into the Emissions Trading Scheme by 2013.
Mr Goff spoke to the Federated Farmers National Council in Wellington on Thursday.
He acknowledged that Labour and Federated Farmers disagree over the ETS, but said New Zealand needs to include agricultural emissions in the scheme to protect future market access.
Mr Goff said agriculture makes up half New Zealand's total emissions and the industry cannot afford to ignore the issue.
"The emissions trading scheme will protect us against our trading partners using environmental concerns to block our products."
Mr Goff argued that if New Zealand let its reputation slip, both its export markets and farm incomes would be under threat.
During questions after his speech, Mr Goff was challenged on Labour's ETS stance.
Federated Farmers' meat and fibre chair, Jeanette Maxwell, said the scheme would make the price of New Zealand's products prohibitive and asked how overseas markets would afford them.
Mr Goff said many countries had emissions trading schemes, and countries like China are taking the issue seriously.
He reaffirmed Labour's proposal to tighten up restrictions on land sales to foreigners.