Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Not as important as they think they are

Farmers have been whining a lot lately, about the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill, about Canterbury's proposed nitrogen limits, and about the government's new proposals to stop them from shitting in our lakes and rivers. These policies are "throwing farmers under the tractor", they will force farmers off the land and "end farming as we know it" (something which needs to happen, as its clear to everyone but farmers that "farming as we (or rather, they) know it" is simply not ecologically sustainable). And of course that will be Bad For New Zealand, because farmers are the "backbone of the economy".

Except it turns out they're not:

New Zealand's new fresh water regulation rules will have no major impacts on the national economy, according to an independent report just out.

The report by independent economic consultancy New Zealand Institute of Economic Research shows that dairying represents about 3% of national GDP and is behind tourism in export earnings.

The study, commissioned by Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, and Fish and Game, found the impact on national GDP of the proposed reforms were unlikely to be major, stating that: “Due to the relatively small size of the dairy industry, the impacts of the government reforms are unlikely to be major at the national level, and not felt for many years due to the long lead in times proposed.”

Farmer whining assumes that they can not or will not do anything to improve their environmental performance. However, as the report points out, they have plenty of time, plenty of options and the regulations will force them to innovate and adopt better practices. Which means that if they choose not to and are forced out of business, that's really on them.