Sunday, May 19, 2024

New report finds rural communities will be ‘devastated’ by emissions pricing

A new report released by BusinessNZ says rural communities like Southland, Waimate, Wairoa and South Taranaki will be “devastated” by agricultural emissions pricing.

Federated Farmers Vice-President, Wayne Langford says the Government needs to think very carefully about the timing, structure, and impact of any move to price agricultural emissions.

“The cost of living and looming economic downturn are front of mind for most New Zealanders at the moment – and that includes farmers, who are really struggling with huge cost increases,” Mr Langford said.

“There’s a lot of pressure on people with increased costs, declining incomes, staffing shortages and the ongoing impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.”

He says the Government’s own consultation document responding to He Waka Eke Noa suggested emissions pricing could cut dairy farm incomes by 6-7% and sheep & beef farm incomes by 18-24%.

BusinessNZ has assessed what the impact of those losses would be on both upstream industries that are “critically dependent” on farming like fertiliser, vets, and agricultural support services, and downstream meat and dairy processing industries.

The analysis estimates 54,607 jobs in the key upstream and downstream industries nationally are vulnerable if agricultural emissions become subject to pricing.

That doesn’t include vulnerable on-farm employment in sheep, beef, and dairy farming, which together employ a further 44,500 people.

“Noting that some communities will be devastated by the introduction of pricing agricultural emissions, it will be important to ensure that there is a strong policy response to mitigate the harms that will be experienced,” said BusinessNZ Senior Policy Advisor – Future of Work, Mark Cox.

BusinessNZ Senior Policy Advisor – Future of Work, Mark Cox.

“Relying on offsetting impacts associated with alternative land uses, and the hope that
remaining sheep and beef exports will attract premium prices on world markets, is unlikely to secure a just transition for the communities affected.”

Mr Langford has called for a review of current methane reduction targets to better take into account the warming impact of methane.

“Our current targets aren’t grounded in science and go further and faster than is required. That’s what adds all the cost and puts our rural communities at risk,” he says.

“We need to make sure we get the settings right to protect the viability of our rural communities and our economy. If we don’t, we will just end up exporting jobs and emissions instead of meat and milk, and the planet will be no better off for it.”

Latest Articles