Tuesday, 01 March 2022 11:55

Emissions roadshow rolls on

Written by  Peter Burke
Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor has been fronting the South Island leg of the HWEN roadshow. Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor has been fronting the South Island leg of the HWEN roadshow.

Farmers are saying no to the ETS - that's the clear messge coming through from the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) climate consultation roadshow, according to DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ.

The two industry-good organisations have, for the past week or so, been holding farmer meetings at various venues across the country. The CEOs of the respective organisations are leading these meetings - Tim Mackle from DairyNZ, who's heading up the North Island leg of the programme, and Sam McIvor from B+LNZ - who's fronting the South Island meetings. The two teams presenting the information comprise of six people, including Mackle and McIvor.

McIvor told Rural News that farmer attendances at the meetings he's been to in the South Island are good, considering there is a limit of 100 at each event. He says about 80% of those who registered are turning up and says the age range is a mixture of young and older farmers.

To gauge farmers' views on the HWEN, they are using an app called Slido which is a polling-type app where farmers using their mobile phones can register their preferences for the various options to give the organisers some direct feedback.

"The farmers are very quick to recognise the two options that are being offered to them," McIvor claims. "The farm level one looks like the fairest and they see themselves as getting rewarded for what we do and don't do on our own farm."

But he adds that they also understand that there are problems, such as an administrative burden. "Others favoured the processor hybrid model, which they recognise as being administratively simpler. They can see the advantages of that system, which will allow them to focus on their farming."

McIvor believes farmers are doing some homework to see how the sequestration numbers in HWEN line up on their own farm. He says they also want feedback on the targets.

He says what system is adopted is ultimately all abut a negotiation with the Government and getting quality feedback from farmers is a critical part of the process.

"It is the farmers who are going to make the changes on their farms, not the Government or the industry good organisations," McIvor adds. "So, the systems have to absolutely work for farmers - both administratively and practically."

He says the model that is finally adopted also needs to support farmers and motivate them, as well as give them confidence to get on and make changes.

"Therefore, farmer observation and critique is absolutely critical."

Attendances at the North Island meetings have been much the same as the South Island, Mackle says.

He admits to being surprised at the large numbers coming along - despite the presence of Omicron in most areas.

Dairy farmers and their sheep and beef colleagues are attending the same meetings and Mackle says the balance of each depends on the locality of the meeting.

"Where there are more dairy farms, there is larger number of dairy farmers present and the reverse happens in hill country areas."

Mackle told Rural News there have been some really good discussions at the meetings. He adds that more online options are being made available for those who "understandably" can't attend.

"There is nothing like having face-to-face discussions and being able to drill down a bit more and a read the body language."

Mackle believes the reaction from farmers attending the meetings in the North Island is similar to those in the South Iland, with the overwhelming majority wanting to get to the farm-level measurement system which rewards people for what they do.

"The isue is do we end up transitioning from a processor level first for pragmatic reasons," he says.

While the roadshow was still continuing when this article was written, B+LNZ and DairyNZ says they are meeting daily to assess the situation in light of the Covid pandemic.

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