New Zealand farmers may have to pay a bovine burp levy if govt has its way
WELLINGTON - New Zealand farmers may have to pay a bovine burp levy if the government's proposed plan goes into effect.
Under the plan, farmers will start to pay a levy on agricultural emissions by 2025 - a move Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said would be a world first.
The emissions will include methane belched out by cows and nitrous oxide emitted through livestock urine.
New Zealand has about 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep.
Nearly half its total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, mainly methane.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters Tuesday's proposal would make the country's farmers not only the best in the world but the best for the world.
"The proposal would see New Zealand farmers lead the world in reducing emissions, delivering a competitive advantage and enhancing our export brand," she said.
"No other country in the world has yet developed a system for pricing and reducing agricultural emissions, so our farmers are set to benefit from being first movers."
Ms Ardern said the proposals will allow the South Pacific nation to meet its legislated target of reducing methane emissions to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030.
The plan proposes prices for long-lived gases such as carbon dioxide be set annually and be based on domestic emission prices for other sectors while a biogenic methane levy price would be priced by the government based on advice from the Climate Commission.
The proposal will provide financial incentives for farmers to use technology that reduces sheep and cow burps and money farmers pay for their emissions will be reinvested in the sector.
The proposed plan has been criticised by farming groups worried about how the proposal accounts for on-farm forestry and what can be offset against emissions.
They say increased costs will encourage farmers to turn beef and sheep farms into forestry. And they feared some will walk off the land as their costs become overwhelming.
Lobby group Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard said: "Federated Farmers is deeply unimpressed with the government's take on the... proposal and is concerned for our members' future."
The plan "will rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be", he said.
The government acknowledges in the consultation document that emissions reductions are expected to come from land-use changes, as well as increased farm efficiency and emissions mitigation.
The proposal now goes to consultation and will need to be passed into law before being put into force. - REUTERS, BLOOMBERG