Monday, May 06, 2019

Climate Change: No future for farming II

If New Zealand is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and avoid making the earth uninhabitable, we need to massively scale down farming in this country. The good news is that it is already happening, and farmers don't like it:

More and more of Wairarapa's rolling green pastures are being blanket-planted with pine trees, which rural communities warn are killing their way of life.


Pongaroa School, nestled in the heartland of rural Wairarapa, is a little country school that is getting even smaller.

The chairman of the board of trustees, Scott Somerville, blamed it on the number of pine plantations which have replaced farmland.

"Those farms might have supported two or three families, those families then move off to other areas.

"How that manifests at a school level is our roll is dropping dramatically, that's not something we are seeing in the future, that's something we are seeing right now," Mr Somerville said.

Why is this happening? It's the market. Now that carbon prices are no longer kept artificially low by a flood of fraudulent foreign "credits", growing trees is twice as profitable as growing sheep. And with the $25/ton price cap set to be removed, carbon prices should roughly double (EU prices are already 25 Euro and increasing now they've fixed their market). With farmers able to earn $1,500 / hectare by growing trees, plus potentially $5,000 / hectare on harvesting (which the averaging approach means they won't need to repay if they replant), and without the huge variability of dairy, the financial incentives are to phase out polluting farming and instead grow carbon sinks. And the quicker farmers follow their wallets, ditch their cows, and start planting trees, the better.