Fonterra breaks public silence on efforts to tax agricultural emissions, says support for process

Ruminant cattle are not included in the emissions trading scheme.

Dominico Zapata / Stuff

Ruminant cattle are not included in the emissions trading scheme.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell said the dairy company supports ongoing efforts to tax emissions from agriculture.

The company, New Zealand’s largest, had not commented on the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) process since its launch in 2019 – long before any of its options were on the table.

The partnership between industry lobby groups and government aims to find a way to price and tax agricultural emissions.

HWEN has put forward several proposals for quantifying emissions, although none of them result in more than a 1% reduction in agricultural emissions.

* Farm lobby turns into open battle as Groundswell attacks established players
* Groundswell refuses to meet the PM alongside other groups, as ructions surface within the farming faction
* Climate change: James Shaw distances himself from the proposals of the group of agricultural programs

DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are part of the process and have come under serious pressure from farmers to participate, including through the Groundswell movement.

A farmer close to the process said Thing there was some frustration that Fonterra had not publicly supported the process or any of the options, as several major meat exporters did with a recent open letter in The Farmers’ Weekly.

Thing asked Fonterra for a comment several weeks ago without receiving a response.

But Hurrell, who is part of the Prime Minister’s trade delegation on his first overseas trip, said Fonterra had been largely supportive of him.

“DairyNZ is leading the charge on this and we support the process,” Hurrell said.

“We are members of DairyNZ so we let them take the lead.”

Hurrell said farmers understood sustainability would be a useful selling point for customers, but wanted clarity on timelines and a “science-backed” solution.

Miles Hurrell, CEO of Fonterra.


Miles Hurrell, CEO of Fonterra.

Agriculture contributed half of New Zealand’s total emissions in 2020, but is not priced or taxed under the emissions trading system like other emissions from things like gasoline.

HWEN has not yet decided on a single option for pricing emissions.

It is currently digesting feedback from around 7,000 people after releasing some draft options for comment.

HWEN director Kelly Forster said the consultation showed that many people were concerned about the financial viability of their operations.

“There is great concern about the potential impact of any levy on the financial viability of agriculture. No decision has been made on the amount of the levy, but the partners hear that farmers want a say in pricing and revenue recycling decisions,” Forster said.

HWEN will present a final option on which the government will make a decision by December.

While Groundswell has argued that the HWEN options go too far and should be dropped, Greenpeace argues they don’t go far enough – also saying the process should be dropped.

If a solution is not found, the government has declared that it will place agriculture in the emissions trading scheme.


Comments are closed.