Farms to forests: Minister for Agriculture on farmers

Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor talks with Kathryn Ryan about the tough choices farmers are facing, including looming emissions pricing, and the temptation to sell into carbon farm forestry. 

Land use conversion has already occurred at pace on the East Coast, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, South Otago, Clutha Southland and other parts of the country.

This month the government confirmed there would be a price on agricultural emissions from 2025 – they will be levied at the farm gate level. 

However if the government’s own systems are not ready for that in time, levies will begin at the processor level.

Federated farmers says proposed emissions pricing will “rip the guts out of small-town New Zealand” and accelerate the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forests.

The government’s own official advice suggests a twenty percent reduction in the sheep and beef sector alone.

The Climate Commission had earlier warned the government against an over-dependence on tree planting as a means of offsetting gross emissions. 

According to an independent report commissioned by Beef and Lamb NZ two-thirds of all farm sales (92,000 ha) between the start of 2017 and the end of 2020 were whole farm conversions to forestry.

Huiarua and Matanui stations, sold to forestry this year

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