17 Jul 2008

Farmers fear undercutting from Australian rivals

7:19 am on 17 July 2008

New Zealand farmers fear their rivals in Australia will undercut them in other markets because of different schemes to tackle climate change.

They want the Government to think again about its policies in light of the emissions trading scheme unveiled in Australia.

The Australian government has unveiled proposals to discourage firms and individuals from pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

As with the New Zealand proposal, the scheme would impose financial costs on organisations that do this, but it softens the blow in many sectors and lets agriculture off the hook until 2015 at the earliest.

New Zealand farmers must face this matter by 2013.

Frank Brenmuhl, who handles climate change for Federated Farmers, says that will give Australian farmers at least two years to sell their products at a price their New Zealand rivals will not be able to match.

In addition, they could benefit from special assistance on energy and transport which is not available in New Zealand.

Mr Brenmuhl says New Zealand should not be out of step with major trading partners or competitors.