The primary sector welcomes the government’s decision to work with farmers and growers to achieve practical and effective outcomes on climate change under He Waka Eke Noa – the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment.

New Zealand farmers are already world leaders in the highly efficient production of low-emissions food – and we want to ensure they stay world leading without undermining the competitiveness and resilience of our primary sector.

That’s why we are committed to working in partnership with the Government to creating the right environment to incentivise and support change as the world transitions to a lower emissions economy in an effort to limit global average temperature increase to 1.5-degrees above pre-industrial levels whilst maintaining food production.

As part of this Commitment, He Waka Eke Noa, the primary sector will work with government to implement an effective programme for farmers and growers to deliver emissions reductions and offsets while maintaining profitability.

Through a joint action plan – with the primary sector, government and Māori and Iwi – farmers and growers by 2025 will be able to calculate their emissions and offsets at the farm gate, have greater confidence in assessing options to reduce or mitigate their emissions, and know that there is ongoing investment to expand the emissions reduction tool box available to them.

The framework will address climate change within a whole farm systems framework, recognising that farmers efforts to reduce emissions sits alongside water quality, biosecurity, biodiversity, animal welfare, and financial sustainability.

We are pleased that the government has recognised that it does not make sense to bring agriculture into the ETS and that we have a pathway to work with the government to develop a more appropriate framework.

The sector will work with government to design a pricing mechanism where any price is part of a broader framework to incentivise the uptake of economically viable opportunities that contribute to lower global emissions. We outlined the principles that must underpin design of pricing in in He Waka Eke Noa.

The primary sector acknowledges that Government is legislating for a regulatory backstop if they do not feel enough progress has been made through He Waka Eke Noa to enable a farm-level mechanism.  Like the ICCC, we do not believe a processor level ETS mechanism is the right approach, but it is the Government’s prerogative to put this in place.

We are focusing on the positives and will be getting on with the job of delivering against our He Waka Eke Noa commitments.

Achieving this programme of work will not be cheap, and it will not be easy. Substantial annual funding of at least $25 million has been committed by the primary sector as we work towards achieving an ambitious five-year timeframe.

Success will require an enormous effort by the industry-good organisations, with the support of processors, and the commitment of individual farmers and growers.

We welcome this pragmatic and sensible decision by the Government to work in partnership with industry to achieve tangible on-farm change and hope that it might provide a blueprint for the way we work together to solve environmental challenges in the future.

We firmly believe this agreement will enable the fastest possible progress to be made towards reducing New Zealand’s biological emissions in an effective and sustainable way that brings farmers, growers and communities along with us.