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New Tax For Farmers In New Zealand On Livestock’s Burps & Farts

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In New Zealand, if your cow or sheep burps or farts, as a land owner you will have to pay a bulky tax bill.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced at a press conference that the government will fine farmers for their livestock’s emissions in efforts to deal with climate change. She said, “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.”

New Zealand is an extensive livestock and meat exporter with 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep. Half of the country’s total emissions are agricultural emissions which include 91% of its biogenic emissions of methane. It is a greenhouse gas with the potential of contributing to global warming 80 times more than carbon dioxide.

The agricultural industry has been excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme, a governmental body that monitors the emissions of the sector.

Arden said, “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 the first movers.” The farmers, however, have doubts about the heavy costs this will have on the sector.

New tax angers farmers

On Tuesday, in an email to farmers, Andrew Morrison, chairman of farm lobby group Beef+ Lamb New Zealand said, “we will not accept a system that disproportionately puts our farmers and communities at risk.”

The government is planning to “rip the guts out of small-town New Zealand”, said Andrew Hoggard, president of the rural advocacy agency Federated Farmers.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut-wrenching to think we now have this proposal from the government which rips the heart out of the work we did. Out of the families who farm this land”, he continued. “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.”

Investment in technology to incentivize farmers

The proposal is intended to encourage farmers to reduce emissions without damaging expenses. The government said, “the revenue raised will be recycled back into the agricultural sector through new technology, research, and incentive payments to farmers.”

Researchers at Fonterra, a dairy company, are running tests of “Kowbucha”, a probiotic to reduce methane-emitting burps.

On Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said, “By rewarding farmers who take action to cut their emissions we can support more farmers to improve their productivity and profitability while achieving climate goals.”

The proposal will go for a consultation which would end in November this year.

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