The Co-op is committed to doing its bit in New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon future and will work with Government, researchers and the wider agriculture industry to get farmers the practical help they will need to meet any new targets.
Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says, “Kiwi farmers are already some of the most emission efficient producers of milk in the world, but the fact is that nearly half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases come from the wider agriculture sector.
“Our actions today will keep New Zealand at the forefront of sustainable food production. We know this means some of the ways we farm will need to change. Fonterra farmers are adaptable and resourceful people. Once set a clear science-based target, they will want to get on with the job and the Co-op will be there to support them.
“It’s not going to be easy. It will require farmers, industry, Government and researchers to all pitch-in and jointly develop innovative, yet practical solutions for New Zealand’s emissions reduction challenges. The increased investment in R&D signalled by the Government and industry is key to bringing new innovations to life.”
The Co-op says that it shares DairyNZ’s view that the 2030 methane target was ambitious, but could be reached with the help of a range of new ideas and tools that needed to be developed and put in the hands of farmers. It says the 2050 target should be based on official scientific advice and set at the lower end of the proposed range and regularly reviewed against the science and options available to farmers.
“Climate change is a challenge for every New Zealander. Collectively we must continue to address our use of fossil fuels in transport and manufacturing, as well as find a way to manage and mitigate animal emissions.
“Agriculture depends upon a stable global climate, so there’s no shortage of motivation for us. Fonterra has a strong appetite to do its bit alongside the rest of New Zealand to reduce climate pollution,” says Mr Hurrell.
The Co-op also acknowledges the Government for supporting further discussion on the agriculture sector’s proposal to establish an emissions pricing system by 2025, funded through levy organisations like DairyNZ.
Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman Duncan Coull says, “farmers will naturally have some apprehension, but we’re up for the challenge. Fonterra’s farmers have a proud history of being at the forefront of innovation and won’t shy away from this.
“Business as usual is not compatible with New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and dairy farmers need to contribute their share to the efforts of the wider economy.
“This is the beginning of a process. New Zealand has a scientifically advanced agricultural economy, and the world will be watching us. However, regulations must be fair and drafted with care not to jeopardize our comparative advantage in global export markets. I’m a firm believer that science and technology will provide solutions over time. Therefore, it is imperative that regulation doesn’t get too far ahead of the scientific solutions
“Given the magnitude of change I would also call for wider industry collaboration to ensure we always act in the best interests of our farmers and caution against industry politics getting in the way of such an important issue for us all.
“I would urge all farmers to engage with the industry to lift their understanding and awareness as to how collectively we can work together to tackle this issue head on to capture further opportunities as the lowest emitting, most sustainable producers of nutrition to the world.”