Farmers say New Zealand’s revised ‘fart and burp’ tax on cows still stinks

The New Zealand government on Wednesday outlined changes to controversial plans to tax livestock’s farts and burps, but a leading farmers’ group said it was still opposed to the emissions-cutting scheme.

livestock tax

New Zealand is planning a “world-first” levy on emissions of methane and nitrous oxide produced by the country’s 6 million cows and 26 million sheep as a step to combat climate change.

Under the proposed system, farmers would have to pay for the gas emissions from their animals.

The plans have caused an uproar in New Zealand agriculture and sparked nationwide protests.

Farmers have urged Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s centre-left government to drop the tax as they warn food will become more expensive and livelihoods could be at risk.

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Changed tax

Changes outlined on Wednesday include allowing farmers to use on-farm forestry to offset their carbon emissions and promising to keep emissions prices low.

“Our common goal is to help farmers increase exports, reduce emissions and maintain our agricultural sector’s international competitive advantage,” Ardern said in a statement.

“With or without government proposals, New Zealand needs to be at the forefront to remain competitive in a market that demands sustainably produced products,” she warned.

Ardern hopes her cabinet will make a final decision on pricing for the farm emissions program in early 2023, with a five-year pricing system set to begin in 2025.

“Taxation of Food Production”

The head of New Zealand’s leading agriculture advocacy group said the amended plans still stank and criticized the government’s “unrealistic timetables”.

“Everyone else is talking about food security and working with farmers to develop practical farm solutions,” Andrew Hoggard, president of New Zealand’s Federated Farmers, said in a statement.

“Only New Zealand is taking the punitive step of taxing efficient, unsubsidized food production, even if it comes at a huge cost.”

While Ardern “wants to put in place a permanent emissions reduction regime,” Hoggard accused her government of “making vague promises of an obscure future review with unknown terms.”

“The response is so high that we may not be able to clearly understand the details until we actually see it when it becomes law next year,” he warned.

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