New Zealand angers its farmers by proposing taxing cow burps
New Zealand's government on Tuesday proposed taxing the greenhouse gasses that farm animals make from burping and peeing as part of a plan to tackle climate change. The government said the farm levy would be a world first, and that farmers should be able to recoup the cost by charging more for climate-friendly products. Federated Farmers, the industry's main lobby group, said the plan would "Rip the guts out of small-town New Zealand" and see farms replaced with trees. Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said farmers had been trying to work with the government for more than two years on an emissions reduction plan that wouldn't decrease food production. New Zealand's farming industry is vital to its economy.
The outsized industry has made New Zealand unusual in that about half of its greenhouse gas emissions come from farms. The debate in New Zealand is part of a broader global reckoning about farming's impact on the environment and the steps some say are needed for mitigation. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said all the money collected from the proposed farm levy would be put back into the industry to fund new technology, research and incentive payments for farmers. "New Zealand's farmers are set to be the first in the world to reduce agricultural emissions, positioning our biggest export market for the competitive advantage that brings in a world increasingly discerning about the provenance of their food," Ardern said.
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said it was an exciting opportunity for New Zealand and its farmers. If Ardern's government can't find agreement on the proposal with farmers, who have considerable political sway in New Zealand, it's likely to make it more difficult for Ardern to win reelection next year when the nation goes back to the polls.
Source : NPR