Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), the body responsible for promoting beef and lamb in the country, has called for urgent changes to prevent the sale of whole farms for forestry. In a report released last week, B+LNZ examined whether changes were needed to New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in relation to the beef and lamb sectors. The report highlighted concerns about the current ETS model, which has seen an increasing number of farms being sold for forestry, hindering farmers’ ability to diversify. B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor emphasized the need for a balance in policy settings to support farmers’ income from carbon revenue and protect rural communities.
The report identified short-term and long-term changes required for New Zealand’s ETS. It specifically called for reforms to the “permanent” category of the ETS, suggesting the exclusion of exotic plantings, except in certain circumstances, to prevent significant land-use change. McIvor noted that further changes targeting other categories of the ETS may also be necessary in the future. The report reflects a growing consensus on the need for policy changes to address the issue of wholesale land-use change, which is exceeding recommendations by the Climate Change Commission and negatively impacting rural communities, food production, and export income.
B+LNZ is also concerned about the current rules regarding the use of forestry to offset fossil fuel emissions. New Zealand is one of the few countries that allows fossil fuel emitters to offset 100% of their emissions through forestry offsets. While forestry offsets are essential for meeting emissions reduction targets, McIvor stressed the importance of managing them in a way that ensures sustainable and equitable outcomes for future generations.
The call for urgent changes to the ETS comes after a consultation by the New Zealand government on the design and functioning of the scheme. B+LNZ’s report adds to the growing consensus on the need for policy adjustments to address the challenges faced by the beef and lamb sectors and protect rural communities. The report’s recommendations aim to strike a balance between addressing climate change and supporting farmers’ livelihoods. As discussions continue, stakeholders will need to work together to find solutions that benefit both the environment and the agricultural industry in New Zealand.