Tuesday, 26 April 2022 09:55

Pork sector has beef with emissions plan

Written by  Leo Argent
NZ Pork chief executive Brent Kleiss. NZ Pork chief executive Brent Kleiss.

New Zealand's pig farmers say while they are committed to playing their part in reducing agricultural emissions, the current proposals for livestock emissions pricing are unfair to the sector.

Pork NZ has made these comments in the wake of the He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership's (HWEN) recently completed consultation on policy options for pricing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.

Pork NZ chief executive Brent Kleiss says New Zealand pig farming has a small environmental footprint relative to other parts of the primary production sector - producing 0.2% of agricultural emissions against 242,600 pigs.

Kleiss says the NZ pork sector supports a farm-level pricing scheme but has concerns about the current proposals.

"Pig farming differs significantly from pastoral farming because pigs are monogastric [having a single compartmented stomach like humans and poultry]. So, they naturally produce lower methane emissions than ruminants like cattle or sheep [ferments food in a special stomach prior to digestion]," he explains.

"Pig farming systems are also very different to pastoral farming systems. Therefore, we believe more work is needed to assess whether a price on emissions is a suitable policy approach for our sector."

Kleiss believes that with emissions from pigs set to be priced from 2025, a farm-level scheme designed for ruminants could be adapted for the pork industry. But he adds that the level of time and resources that would be required to do this and investment needed would have to be consistent with the anticipated benefits of pig emission pricing.

"Our low emissions profile and the nature of our sector means reductions in our emissions will require different solutions rather than a 'one size fits all' approach."

Despite the country's pig sector's low emissions output, compared to beef and sheep, its small numbers make it an imperfect comparison. This is despite the indubitable fact that monogastric animals do produce less emissions than ruminants.

Guardian article from 2019 - citing Stats NZ - showed that New Zealand's gross aricultural emissions hit an all-time high at 82.3 million tonnes CO2 equivalent, with a 57% rise since 1990 - the second highest of all industrialised countries.

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