14 Jun 2017

Dairy industry lays out plan to reduce greenhouse gases

8:08 pm on 14 June 2017

The dairy industry has revealed a plan to try and reduce greenhouse gasses on dairy farms.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Climate Change Issues Paula Bennett today announced the 'Dairy Action for Climate Change' plan at the opening of the Mystery Creek Fieldays in Hamilton.

The plan is an 18-month partnership between DairyNZ and Fonterra, and is backed by the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the future of New Zealand agriculture needed modern, science-based farming and the new plan took a three-pronged approach.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

"Firstly, we'll set up some pilot farms across the country and we're working with Fonterra on that to understand what is possible at the moment.

"[The] second part is really around education, we're going to do a roadshow across the country to build a better understanding of what's coming and what they can do now.

"Thirdly, we're going to mobilise dairy environment leader out there to help farmers answer questions with government and with industry."

Dairy farmers, and the scientists working alongside them, were serious about improving the environment, Mr Mackle said.

"The plan lays down the foundation for dairy's sustained, strategic approach to a lower carbon future. We're taking the first steps in understanding what dairy can do in conjunction with the wider agricultural sector, plus industry and urban communities to help meet New Zealand's Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.

"Our farmers are already working on lowering emissions.

"They are used to rising to challenges, and they're dedicated stewards of their land who want to do the right thing by the environment."

Mr Mackle said the new plan dovetailed into the work of the Biological Emissions Reference Group, which involves industry and government.

Mrs Bennett also said the government would not bring agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme until there was an economically viable way of reducing emissions on farms.

Paula Bennett with the team from AgriSea.

Paula Bennett with the team from AgriSea. Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

Climate change plan 'lacks a serious commitment'

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the plan was a step in the right direction but lacked a serious commitment to reducing climate damaging pollution from the dairy industry.

"Paula Bennett should have used today to set a firm date for when the dairy industry will need to start paying for the pollution it emits, just like other businesses have to in New Zealand."

Mr Shaw said there were good initiatives in the plan, but it did not go far enough.

"National still hasn't given farmers any certainty about when they will have to start paying for and reducing climate pollution on the farm.

"No farmer wants their child to inherit a world with longer droughts, and chronic water shortages. Farmers want leadership from government and a real commitment to pollution cuts."

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