Thursday, July 25, 2019

Climate Change: Farmers plan to fail

The Environment Committee has begun hearing submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill, and farmers are first out of the gate, claiming that the targets are "unattainable":

Politicians have been told an "unachievable" 47 per cent methane reduction target would be setting farmers up to fail and investment in technology needs to be made first.


DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said he aimed to "send a clear message" that targets were "unattainable" for farmers and to convey their opinion that the books have been significantly "undercooked".

To point out the obvious, the targets are only "unattainable" if you assume that farmers can do nothing to meet them. But there's an obvious way to reduce biogenic methane by 47%: reduce cow numbers by 47%. And this can be done quite quickly within the farm business cycle, simply by not replacing cows as they are killed.

Obviously, farmers don't want to do that, because their imagination extends only as a far as a high-volume, low-value production model. But if they don't want to do that, then the onus is on them to find another way. And if they think there's a technological solution, then they need to step up, fund it, and adopt it.

But as usual, this isn't really a good faith argument. The fundamental problem here is that farmers don't want to change. And so they whine about the need for "research" (which they refuse to fund) and "technology" (which they refuse to adopt) as a delaying tactic, in an effort to keep on getting a free ride from the rest of us. But after nearly two decades of such whining and inaction, its become a little obvious. And we should not tolerate it any longer. Instead, we should make farmers pay their way for once in their lives, rather than leeching off the rest of us.