New Zealand Farmer Tax

The Lempert Report
October 19, 2022

On today’s Bullseye New Zealand wants to tax farmers for their cows’ and sheep burps and farts. Seriously.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced that her government will push ahead with a proposal to make farmers pay for their livestock’s ‘gas’ emissions in a bid to combat climate change. “This is an important step forward in New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions future and delivers on our promise to price agriculture emissions from 2025,” she said. As you may know, New Zealand is a major livestock and meat exporter, and has around 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep.

According to CNN, agricultural accounts for half of the country’s total emissions, including 91% of its biogenic emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas with more than 80 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide in the short term. The Prime Minister said that “No other country in the world has yet developed a system for pricing and reducing agricultural emissions, so our farmers are set to benefit from being first movers.” As with any legislation there are concerns and opposition. New Zealand’s farm groups are have raised concerns about the high costs this will impose on the industry. Andrew Morrison, chairman of farm lobby group Beef + Lamb New Zealand, said in an email to farmers, “we will not accept a system that disproportionately puts our farmers and communities at risk.” Andrew Hoggard, president of the rural advocacy agency Federated Farmers, said in a statement “We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut-wrenching to think we now have this proposal from government which rips the heart out of the work we did. Out of the families who farm this land,” he said. “Our plan was to keep farmers farming. Now they’ll be selling up so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute as they drive off.” The premise of the proposal is to incentivize farmers to reduce emissions without imposing damaging costs. In a statement, the government said the revenue raised will be “recycled back into the agriculture sector through new technology, research and incentive payments to farmers.” The big unanswered question for me is just how are they going to measure burps and farts?