How will your policies see urgent action around reducing emissions from agriculture, and how will you support farmers to move towards regenerative agricultural practices?
We see success in the agricultural sector as being crucial to post COVID-19 recovery both in economic and environmental terms. Half of our emissions are from agriculture. Here, we really need scientific solutions. New Zealand produces milk, beef and lamb with a lower carbon footprint than anywhere else in the world. We don’t see any merit in reducing food production in New Zealand as this will simply result in other, less efficient food producers picking up our production, global emissions would increase.
We need to develop new novel solutions to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Things under development include low emissions feeds and low emissions breeding.
The previous National Government recognised this challenge and worked with over 50 other countries to establish the global research alliance on greenhouse gas emissions. We also supported this with a dedicated New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre in Palmerston North.
Its important to recognise that while New Zealand emissions are a tiny portion of global emissions (around 0.16%); livestock emissions are around 4% of global emissions. So we can in many ways have the biggest impact on global emissions by leading this technology development and delivering it to the rest of the world.
Earlier this year, we launched Fit for a Better World: Accelerating our economic potential. Its vision includes moving rapidly to a low carbon emissions society, restoring the health of our water, reversing the decline in biodiversity, and at the same time feeding our people.
Fit for a Better World recognises that within a generation modern regenerative production systems will be the foundation of our prosperity and primary production. There is an expectation that regenerative farming systems will improve the profitability of farming while leaving behind a smaller environmental footprint.
We passed the landmark Zero Carbon Act, which set out a set a new domestic greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for New Zealand to reduce emissions of biogenic methane to 24–47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050, including to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030.
We’ve also reached a world-first plan, alongside farming leaders, to develop practical and cost-effective ways to measure and price emissions at the farm level by 2025. Including improving tools for estimating and benchmarking emissions on farms, increasing farm advisory capacity and capability, and providing recognition for on-farm mitigation.
And, we’re supporting farmer-led solutions through our Productive and Sustainable Land Use package, with a focus on promoting farm land-use practices that deliver more value and improve environmental outcomes.
Labour will continue to back our farmers, and support the transition to a more sustainable economy.
Aotearoa can have a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector that responds to the challenge of climate change while protecting food security, producing high value exports, preserving and enhancing the natural environment, and contributing to flourishing rural communities. The Green Party will:
- Work with farmers to urgently develop and implement a fair and science-based way to measure and price agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.
- Support regenerative agriculture in New Zealand, so farming practices improve the ecosystems they rely on.
- Phase-out the most environmentally degrading agricultural inputs, such as synthetic fertilisers and harmful pesticides, and ban Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) imports.
- Support farmers to transition to organic agriculture, provide support for up-scaled farm advisory services, and fix the Organic Products Bill to give the organics sector a fair go.
- Promote urban agriculture, food forests, and food growing in towns and cities.
- Model environmentally sustainable farming with Pāmu-Landcorp.
- Protect productive food-growing land from urban sprawl.
- Encourage government agencies to buy locally grown food and timber products.
- Continue to work with farmers to better protect and enhance areas of indigenous vegetation and habitat to ensure sustainable farming
We plan to announce more detailed policy to support the shift to sustainable agriculture in coming weeks.