While the Government is unmercifully hammering farming on methane because it is easy, low-hanging fruit to meeting climate change commitments other sectors continue to pump carbon dioxide.
Buoyant meat prices should have farmers smiling but the relentless anti-farming pressure from political groups and the Government is depressing.
A campaign was waged in Southland against farmers and their winter grazing by Greenpeace and activists. One activist was rewarded for his harassment of stressed farmers by Ag Minister Damien O’Connor who appointed him to a winter grazing taskforce.
Given the systematic way Environment Minister David Parker is undermining farming it is easy to forget he is also the Trade Minister.
It is the likes of the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and freshwater proposals which are the most serious concern to farmers.
A carrot is far more beneficial than the heavy-handed stick approach of levies and blanket legislation. This was highlighted in the past three issues of Country-Wide during our series on carbon forestry. Thanks to generous Government payments for carbon credits, blanket plantings of pines are gobbling up sheep country with the latest figure now estimated to be at least 30,000 hectares gone or going into trees. The series concluded the answer was not paying out generous subsidies for trees, not levying farmers at processors but selling New Zealand farmers’ ability to produce low-carbon-emission meat. Don’t tax farmers for methane but reward them, as many are carbon neutral or even negative.
The proposed blanket national water standards are a slap in the face to the farmers, regional council staff and groups who worked hard on local management plans. Instead of being grassroots driven it has now become heavy-handed, ideologically driven legislation from Wellington. Given the short timeframe allowed for submissions it seems the Government has already made up its mind and the consultation is a charade.
Wairarapa farm consultant Chris Garland, on behalf of his company BakerAg, wrote an open letter to the Government highlighting how its environmental policies were undermining farmers’ mental health and well-being, that farmer morale is as low as under Rogernomics in the late 80s.
I made a submission on the Zero Carbon Bill to support farmers and chose to speak to the select committee when it was in town recently. It was an eye-opener listening to extreme views against pastoral farming, long on ideology, short on reality.
We can’t leave farmers to fight these battles alone. We must support them by making submissions and speaking out like Garland did.
As Albert Einstein said, “Those with the privilege to know have the duty to act.”