A new report released by BusinessNZ shows rural communities like Southland, Waimate, Wairoa and South Taranaki will be “devastated” by agricultural emissions pricing.
This underlines why the Government needs to think very carefully about the timing, structure, and impact of any move to price agricultural emissions, Federated Farmers Vice-President Wayne Langford says.
“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.
“There’s a lot of pressure on people with increased costs, declining incomes, staffing shortages and the ongoing impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle,” Langford 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.
BusinessNZ says there will be flow-on effects to other parts of local economies as incomes and spending power are lost. Some communities will be devasted, and some are likely to become unviable through employment and population loss.
“Before we even look at putting a price on agricultural emissions there needs to be a review of the current methane reduction targets to take into account the warming impact of methane,” Langford says.
“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.
“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.”