‘The family farm has been the bulwark of this country throughout history,’ says Federated Farmers Board Member Sandra Faulkner.
In a statement released Friday, Faulkner addressed the impacts of the government’s carbon emission plan for farmers.
‘Today the continuing existence of the family farm is in question because of an escalating economic crisis that exists in many rural communities throughout this nation.
‘Lumping another tax on our businesses will see the heart of many farming families torn out. On Tuesday, the government released its Pricing agricultural emissions consultation document in response to He Waka Eke Noa.
‘From the report (see Section 4 – Impacts, Pg 58), at an average methane price we will see:
- A 13% reduction in methane, overshooting the government’s target
- A 21% decrease in in Sheep and Beef along with a 7% decrease in Dairy
- Billions of dollars in lost export revenue
‘65% of the reductions leaked overseas to less efficient producers, 133% of sheep meat reductions leaked.
‘This level of climate change tax will have a profound impact on the livelihoods of farmers and mean that small businesses cannot survive economically. It will strike at the most remote farming families – those who receive the least for their rates and taxes, those for whom terrible roads, lack of internet and cellphone coverage and physical isolation are a daily reality.
‘This in turn has devastating social consequences, depopulating rural communities and depriving rural kids of their prospects. There has been some comment that pricing agricultural emissions will “weed out the underperformers” and “this gives the older farmers a reason to exit the industry”. Unfortunately, it will also target the young couples who have just taken on a whacking great mortgage, the entrepreneur who has risked it all to get that great idea off the ground, the parents who are trying to support their successors into farming.
‘This tax will drive farmers off their land. Will the legislators be there to help them pack away their future and their dreams, along with selling their livestock and the dogs that have served them faithfully across the years?
‘Am I getting over-emotional? I don’t think so, because we’ve seen this before. Many of us watched parents, friends and neighbours suffer through marriage breakdowns, severe depression and anxiety during the 1980s when another ideological policy was implemented with no thought to the human cost.
‘This is not a nuclear-free moment! New Zealand never had any nuclear capacity to lose. What New Zealand has to lose is farming mums and dads for whom this unrelenting pressure has become too much.
‘Farmers accept the fact farming is an inherently risky business. They accept that risk and don’t necessarily want to be guaranteed a large profit, but they would like the playing field to be level.’
Image credit: Lukas Hartmann