Greens, farming and “more sustainable land use”

The leak of policies the Greens say were agreed on in governing negotiations will raise a few eyebrows in the farming and export sectors.

1. Climate action

“Significant climate action, with a shift towards a net zero carbon emissions economy by 2050” and the establishing of an independent climate commission. This would include shifting farms to “more sustainable land use” and a focus on transport, energy and primary industries.

New Zealand is supposed to be committed to zero carbon emissions anyway, and it was also Labour policy.

‘Sustainable farming’ is more contentious.

4. Water

Improve water quality and fund “freshwater enhancement”. Government support for irrigation will be wound down.

There has to be continued and increased efforts to reduce water pollution from farming. Somehow this needs to be done without impacting too much on farm incomes, employment and exports.

The farming sector may be concerned, given that Greens have said they want to reduce cow numbers by (I think) 25%. Some reduction is probably sensible, but significant reductions quickly could have a major impact.

During the campaign James Shaw said that a nitrate tax would cost the average dairy farm “no more than 5%” of their profits.

He said the party, if it were in government, would invest in the Sustainable Farming Fund and introduce a fund to support organic farming alongside a new sustainability accreditation scheme.

Mr Shaw said this would be paid for by a nitrate pollution levy on dairy farmers who continue to pollute the soils and water.

He said nitrate pollution was already measured by a modelling system called Overseer.

“The average dairy farm would pay no more than five percent of their pre-tax profits. So that’s the average and it would be no more than that.

That could be significant to struggling cow cockies, especially when it could be in addition to carbon tax for emissions as well as higher costs for irrigation.

What’s really important is that farmers would be able to get that money back by applying to the funds that we’re setting up.”

The Green Party would also place a moratorium on any more farms being converted to dairy, and instead support organic farming.

There have already been moves towards more organic farming methods and this should certainly be encouraged.

However the potential impact on the livelihood of farmers is not a minor matter.

Green policy (not all included in the governing agreement):  Clean water, great farming

The Green Party has a plan to support farmers to move to less polluting, more environmentally sustainable and more profitable ways of farming so that our rivers and lakes are safe to swim in and our drinking water from aquifers is protected.

We will put a levy on nitrate pollution from agriculture, starting with intensive dairying, and use the revenue raised to fund a package of game-changing support measures that farmers can use to reduce their impact on our environment.  We will:

  1. Help farmers move to more sustainable and profitable farming by
  • Extending the Sustainable Farming Fund with an extra $20 million every year.
  • Creating a Transformational Farming Partnership Fund of around $70 million a year.
  • Increasing funding for the Landcare Trust to $16 million over three years.
  • Rewarding tree planting by farmers and landowners.
  • Allowing accelerated depreciation on dairy farm equipment.
  • Support organic farming by introducing national standards, and new funding of $5 million a year.
  1. Implement a levy on nitrate pollution to help protect our rivers, lakes and aquifers, which will raise around $136.5 million in the first year. This will fund the programmes listed above, and an additional $20 million a year for freshwater clean-up projects.
  2. Put a moratorium on new dairy farm conversions.
  3. Wind up Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd and stop providing subsidies for big irrigation projects.
  4. Transition away from Palm Kernel Expeller/Extract (PKE) to alternative feed stocks, from 2018.
  5. Establish a ‘Good Food Aotearoa New Zealand’ national sustainability accreditation scheme for food products, processors and farmers, so those who work with the land, not against it, can prove it to consumers at home and overseas to fetch a higher price and are more attractive to export markets.

“Help farmers move to more sustainable and profitable farming ” – great ideals, but this is vague. I wonder if there has been any real research done on how much more profitable farming will be if it is made more sustainable, how much it will affect farm production, employment and exports.

There is a massive amount dependant on farming in New Zealand, and raising costs and reducing intensification could have a big impact. Do the Greens know how much?

Leave a comment

77 Comments

  1. Perhaps Robert can provide references to how the Green ideals, commendable as they are, would actually impact on farming, on rural and provincial communities, and on exports and the economy. Do the Greens know?

    Reply
  2. Conspiratoor

     /  21st October 2017

    Direct cost to farmers, approx $2,472.37 per livestock farm if my maths is correct. Unlikely to break them. Most will come in the form of subsidies …and we know who pays for those

    Reply
    • David

       /  21st October 2017

      That means the average farmer is making $50,000, which will be $47,500 now. That’s a big hit on a small income.

      Reply
  3. PDB

     /  21st October 2017

    Not worth discussing – Winston will protect the farmers. The water tax on irrigation is already a goner.

    Reply
  4. David

     /  21st October 2017

    In pretty much every other developed country the discussions are usually on how much taxpayer largese is to be gifted to the noble farming community yet here in NZ where we pretty much have the lowest carbon footprint globally we seem to want to virtue signal ourselves into killing the industry that pretty much props up our whole economy.
    Its quite surreal

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st October 2017

      what evidence can you provide that it props up our whole economy?Go.

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  21st October 2017

        The onus is on you to provide evidence of the opposite if you disagree with David………..go!

        Reply
      • Fight4NZ

         /  21st October 2017

        Dairy is our largest productive industry. Tourism may be slightly ahead at the moment for largest?
        It simply is monumentally important. So have to agree with him.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  21st October 2017

          surprises many..from NBR..’https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/dairy-sector-contributes-8-billion-gdp-jw-199810

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  21st October 2017

            ITS 3.5%.

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  21st October 2017

              Nice cherry to pick there Blazer. The 3.5%, which is the highest of any industry, was at the lowest point for dairy, at which time it was still responsible for almost 1/3 of all export earnings to NZ.
              It is a massive industry and hugely important for NZ.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  21st October 2017

              hfd, which is being quietly vertically integrated into the chinese dairy sector

            • Fight4NZ

               /  21st October 2017

              China voraciously pursues ownership of anything they see as desirable or profitable. Especially where it involves outflow from the Chinese economy. We are standing idly by while they consume our most valuable industry waving “Hip hooray for Free Trade” banners.

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              “hfd, which is being quietly vertically integrated into the chinese dairy sector”

              They are trying this, but they will fail, do you realise that don’t you?

            • Fight4NZ

               /  21st October 2017

              Why do you say it will fail?
              They already own significant farm estate, Synlait, whatever the factory in Pokeno is called, Wrightsons, there own exporting processors. We have even sent them our livestock and technology. If they haven’t succeeded already the writing is on the wall in large letters. Or what have I missed?

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              Because it never does.

              “They already own significant farm estate, Synlait, whatever the factory in Pokeno is called, ”

              Synlait is only minority owned by Chinese interests, 39%, nor do Synlait own any farms. The factory in Pokeno was built by Yashili, but is now owned by Danone, who are French, not Chinese. Some farms are owned by Chinese interests, but it’s not really that much in reality and unless you believe all Chinese companies are working together, they are not connected to any of the processing companies. Show me an example of vertical integration actual working……

              ” Or what have I missed?”

              The industry is too dynamic for vertical integration, control from the top to work.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  21st October 2017

              “With their farm count now at 29, Shanghai Pengxin is the third-largest dairy producer in New Zealand. That’s pretty significant, when you are the world’s biggest dairy exporter

              Unlike the situation in the U.S., the line in China between government and business is gray at best and often totally absent. In 2011, for example, 43 percent of all profits generated by China came from firms that the government had a controlling interest in. Even in cases when there is separation in ownership, Chinese companies and individuals are reluctant to flout Beijing’s authority and guidance. For these reasons, most takeovers by Chinese firms equate to a concrete increase in the Chinese government’s power”

              https://www.thetrumpet.com/14057-chinas-conquest-of-new-zealand

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              “With their farm count now at 29, Shanghai Pengxin is the third-largest dairy producer in New Zealand. ”

              This is very misleading. They own about 0.2% of NZ dairy production, calling them the ‘third-largest; dairy producer is nonsense.

              They are a farm operator and the vast majority of farms in NZ are individually owned, and they have no processing capacity. They cannot develop any processing under OIO regulations.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  21st October 2017

              “They cannot develop any processing under OIO regulations”

              OIO regulations are a sad joke when it comes to chinese processing plants and land purchase. If you have been through Pokeno lately you will have seen Yashili’s $200million processing plant

              “Yashili INternation Holdings, which makes and distributes infant milk formula products in CHina, has got Overseas Investment Office approval for its proposed 1.1 billion yuan milk processing plant in Pokeno”

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              ” If you have been through Pokeno lately you will have seen Yashili’s $200million processing plant”

              It’s now owned by Danone. Danone are French, not Chinese. It’s a recon plant too, it doesn’t have any milk supply.

            • Fight4NZ

               /  21st October 2017

              Are you sure they sold out to Danone? I wonder why?
              Danone are a leech investor. Around 10 years ownership of Frucor they would not fund a cent of growth and squeezed out all profit back to France before tripling their money selling to Saporo.

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              “Are you sure they sold out to Danone? I wonder why?”

              Because Yashili built that plant with no idea what they would do with it. Danone are the largest shareholder of Yashili.

              “Danone are a leech investor. Around 10 years ownership of Frucor they would not fund a cent of growth and squeezed out all profit back to France before tripling their money selling to Saporo.”

              Making a return is the purpose of investment.

    • Conspiratoor

       /  21st October 2017

      What price clean water? In my view the carbon emissions industry is one gigantic rort that will achieve diddly squat. But how to reduce nitrate pollution in our rivers without reducing stock numbers and/or going organic …a difficult conundrum

      Reply
      • Fight4NZ

         /  21st October 2017

        Why not go organic? It is a very high return market massively under supplied.
        The yield is not there in current small isolated operations but scale us everything.

        Reply
        • Conspiratoor

           /  21st October 2017

          Sounds like you think the greens are onto something…

          Reply
          • Fight4NZ

             /  21st October 2017

            Possibly in this. Subject to proof of concept.
            Fully agree climate change is woftam. Defarting our cows will not prevent climate Armageddon.

            Reply
        • unitedtribes2

           /  21st October 2017

          massively under supplied.”
          These ate typical terms the organic industry use. The reality can be quite different. I was sucked into producing some organic product once when I was a food processor. “The world can’t get enough. Massively undersupplied” The reality was that I eventually rebranded it conventional to be able to sell it.

          Reply
          • Conspiratoor

             /  21st October 2017

            Current trends suggest otherwise ut.

            Organic milk supply in New Zealand peaked in 2010 when 127 farmers signed contracts with Fonterra, but the dairy giant later cancelled them, citing high transport costs.

            In recent years prices have skyrocketed, bringing fresh impetus to the market. For the 2016-17 season, Fonterra is paying organic farmers $9.20 per kilogram of milksolids, compared to its forecast of $6 per kg/MS for conventional farmers (not including the dividend).

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/90201571/demand-for-organic-milk-outstrips-supply

            Reply
            • PDB

               /  21st October 2017

              “For the 2016-17 season, Fonterra is paying organic farmers $9.20 per kilogram of milksolids, compared to its forecast of $6 per kg/MS for conventional farmers (not including the dividend).”

              What is the cost/profit margin for organic farmers compared to conventional farmers?

            • Fight4NZ

               /  21st October 2017

              Yes the commercial case is to be proven at scale. But there is a lot of daylight between $9.20 and the $6 conventional is only now recovering to.

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              ” a lot of daylight between $9.20 and the $6 conventional is only now recovering to.”

              There is no daylight when you factor the loss of production when farming organically. You loose 20-30% milk production per cow and 20-40% of your stocking numbers, you can lose over half your production.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  21st October 2017

              David, where’s your proof losses are in the order you are claiming

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              It’s in the price difference between organic and ‘conventional’.

              Done well, an organic farmer can be slightly more profitable than a conventional farm, but it’s only a slight difference. Usually farmers go organic out of farming preference and differentiation, there just isn’t enough profit there to dive the market that way.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  21st October 2017

              Not entirely true…

              “There are organic dairy farmers who are in the top 5% of their district in terms of production and also in the top 3% for lowest costs.

              He said in one case, the farmer was originally doing 1100 kgMS with heavy urea use, but in the first year of organic farming, with no urea, he achieved 1000 kgMS and reduced his animal health bill by about 40%”

              http://www.organicpathways.co.nz/business/story/502.html

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              “but in the first year of organic farming”

              Seriously? This is your measure of organic farming? See what happens in 5-10 years.

              From your link;
              “Quinn said there were also many orthodox farmers adopting sustainable ideas and concepts, such as homeopathy”

              Homeopathy? lol!

            • Fight4NZ

               /  21st October 2017

              The lower stock numbers are what I would expect. However I would also expect introducing the system over a district rather than in a single farm would improve efficiencies and capacity. An additional imperative in research into these practices is likely to significantly close the gap also.
              I don’t see why MS would be down per cow?

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              “I don’t see why MS would be down per cow?”

              This is the problem with people who know nothing about farming pontificating on how farmers should farm.

              Less grass = less milk.

            • Fight4NZ

               /  21st October 2017

              I prefer people who read what is written before going off half-cocked. But what can you do?
              Less grass = less cows. But not less milk per cow. Or is there another factor at play ?

            • Conspiratoor

               /  21st October 2017

              @david. Interesting read. A model based on an 18% margin between organic and conventional. News flash, it’s 2017 not 2009.

        • David

           /  21st October 2017

          “Why not go organic? It is a very high return market massively under supplied.”

          If it”s high return and massively under supplied, why are farmers not moving into organic in droves?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  21st October 2017

            It’s pretty highly priced perhaps so while the returns are high the mass market can’t afford it?

            Reply
            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              Organic food is for right-thinking elites and our superiors.

              Let the poor eat cake…..

            • Blazer

               /  21st October 2017

              Aussie firm Bellamys..
              It is estimated that 15% of the company’s revenue for the 2014 financial year came from offshore.[11] The company is a major exporter of organic infant formula to the (estimated 2014) $1 billion per annum[12] Chinese organic infant formula market and is positioned as a “super premium” brand within that market.[9] The company also exports certified organic food to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and New Zealand; with plans to expand into the US and the UK in 2016.[13]

              The increasing demand for organic baby food and infant formula in the Chinese market has been “spurred by a series of food scares, the worst being the death of six children who had consumed baby formula laced with melamine”.[14] Bellamy’s began exporting organic baby formula to China in 2008, prior to the 2008 Chinese milk scandal; with that market currently comprising 50 per cent of Bellamy’s total business.[14] The company has reported a growth rate of 70% per annum over the period 2008 to 2013, and revenue growth of 900% over those five years.[10] Latest company reporting has the business forecasting increased sales to China of 264% in FY2015.[9]

            • Gezza

               /  21st October 2017

              👍🏼

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              Bellamy’s share price crash a lesson for the boom and bust of China;

              “This company was doing $30 million a year in sales just a few years ago, and it did $250 in the last year.”

              http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2016-12-14/bellamys-a-lesson-for-the-market/8120290

            • Gezza

               /  21st October 2017

              👍🏼
              Was it all their organics market?

            • Gezza

               /  21st October 2017

              Sorry. Read the article. Basically, yeah!

            • Fight4NZ

               /  21st October 2017

              That Bellamys article interesting. It also lead onto related articles on Fonterra.
              Apparently their $700m partnership with Beingmate is a total balls up as well.
              Which begs the question how did Spering deserve $6m bonus with that on his watch?

            • David

               /  21st October 2017

              Yes, it’s a spectacular fuck up, they have lost $300m plus so far on that one..

      • Blazer

         /  21st October 2017

        @…Synlait’s largest shareholder, Bright Dairy, has maintained its 39.12% shareholding.
        ‘Bright Dairy is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of $1.7 billion, and is a subsidiary of Bright Food Group, the biggest food company in Shanghai. Earlier this month Bright Food unsuccessfully tried to buy CSR’s Australian sugar unit.’

        Reply
        • David

           /  21st October 2017

          Technically, it’s Bright Food, not Bright Dairy.

          They also own 50% of Silver Fern Farms.

          Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st October 2017

    Screw loose socialism attempting to make private businesses wards of the State and dependent on it. Winston should kill the lot of it.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  21st October 2017

      you will find so many businesses dependent on the state ,despite the calumny of the efficiency of private business.I can direct you to the Banks as a..starter.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  21st October 2017

        Politicians corrupt business and then corrupt business corrupts politicians. All sanctioned by idiot voters seduced by rosy promises amd supported by brainless intellectuals. This is how it starts.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st October 2017

          .. and unaffordable housing is how it ends up. A mess so deeply engrained no one dares to fix it until it collapses wrecking many lives.

          Reply
        • Fight4NZ

           /  21st October 2017

          The sequence of corruption back to front but otherwise reasonably accurate

          Reply
    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  21st October 2017

      Winston has tried to position himself to be the equivalent of the Australian National Party… champion of farmers and provincial towns… the regions as he says……. he now faces a real test as those people and their businesses are exactly who the Greens are going to target for real economic pain….

      Gift card for National from now on…. vote NZF get the Greens…..that is poison for NZF at the polls next time out……next few years National will have huge targets to go after

      Reply
      • Fight4NZ

         /  21st October 2017

        Now you see why the teal coalition was so far fetched?

        Reply
        • Trevors_Elbow

           /  21st October 2017

          Not really. Labour hates farmers always have done…Massey’s Cossacks and all that. Paired with Labour will mean too radical an approach – liabile for a backlash and unwind….paired with National thoough they could get incremental, and importantly, sticky change which farmers couldn’t resist or roll back…..

          The Greens are effectively far laft socialists masquerading behind a green cloak. Their hard core party workers know that and support that stance… the leafy suburbs virtue signaler is just a vapid ballot box stuff with no understanding of what they are really voting for…..

          Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st October 2017

    On the subject of sustainability I read the Government will legislate to prevent child poverty. That will be interesting.

    Reply
    • Fight4NZ

       /  21st October 2017

      Is that a bit of National policy stuck in your teeth? Quick before the loony lefties notice it

      Reply
  7. Gerrit

     /  21st October 2017

    No comment or plan from the Greens on urban pollution and the effect on river /lake quality? All the urban storm water goes into the environment untreated. Contaminants from exhaust emissions, tire and brake dust, cigarette butts, mcdonald wrappers, seagull and pigeon droppings, dog poo, car wash soapy suds, aircraft emissions, etc., etc., etc. ends up in the water stream. How will they tax those?

    A reduction in cow numbers will mean a smaller milk solids volume is produced. Lack of produce means higher prices. The current cost off $6 per lump of butter or $2 for a litre of milk is going to cost a bit more.

    Sometimes I don’t think the Greens understand cause and effect.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  21st October 2017

      The Greens and Labour are so principled they don’t do anything for the environment that might upset their urban voting base.

      Reply
  8. So, yet another robbing Peter to pay Peter tax system which will have some effect towards the desired goals, but will come at some cost in yet more bureaucracy. We’ll need more accommodation/houses in Wellington.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  21st October 2017

      Some Muslim refugees or their families who follow afterwards might be builders?

      Reply
  9. Corky

     /  21st October 2017

    The ideals of the Greens, and those of commercial farming, are not compatible on a large scale. The Greens ideal is protecting the land and working within the confines of what the land can produce.without concerns for commercial reality.

    The commercial operator has little time for limiting his production based on land scale, or going that extra step towards protecting the land in all regards should that mean curtailing production.

    That leaves the Greens with the only option being legislation.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  21st October 2017

      What does protecting the land mean? Owners have every incentive to protect its value. Politicians don’t.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  21st October 2017

        Protecting the land means working with the seasons, limiting urea use. Applying super in equal quantities with Dolomite. Protcting the work horses of the soil- bacteria and host of other things most commerical farmers don’t do.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st October 2017

          You mean it means any random set of actions some politician chooses to deem important.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  21st October 2017

            Hence my original post. However, farmers can be split into basically three groups

            Orthodox ,Organic and Nutrient Dense Producers. The latter uses a limited amount of artificial fertilizers and would consider using chemicals if needed.

            Obviously these group have diametrically opposed methods of production. The Greens would be aligned with organic producers, so yes, the Greens will decide what’s important and what’s not…organic is important to them.

            Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  21st October 2017

        No it doesn’t. Once it gets flushed into the nearest stream, to most cockies it’s of no further interest. That’s where the regulator needs to step in

        Reply

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