New Zealand proposes taxing cow burps, angering farmers

Oct 10, 2022, 5:00 PM | Updated: Oct 11, 2022, 1:48 am

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s government on Tuesday proposed taxing the greenhouse gasses that farm animals make from burping and peeing as part of a plan to tackle climate change.

The government said the farm levy would be a world first, and that farmers should be able to recoup the cost by charging more for climate-friendly products.

But farmers quickly condemned the plan. Federated Farmers, the industry’s main lobby group, said the plan would “rip the guts out of small-town New Zealand” and see farms replaced with trees.

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said farmers had been trying to work with the government for more than two years on an emissions reduction plan that wouldn’t decrease food production.

“Our plan was to keep farmers farming,” Hoggard said. Instead, he said farmers would be selling their farms “so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute (pickup truck) as they drive off.”

Opposition lawmakers from the conservative ACT Party said the plan would actually increase worldwide emissions by moving farming to other countries that were less efficient at making food.

New Zealand’s farming industry is vital to its economy. Dairy products, including those used to make infant formula in China, are the nation’s largest export earner.

There are just 5 million people in New Zealand but some 10 million beef and dairy cattle and 26 million sheep.

The outsized industry has made New Zealand unusual in that about half of its greenhouse gas emissions come from farms. Farm animals produce gasses that warm the planet, particularly methane from cattle burps and nitrous oxide from their urine.

The debate in New Zealand is part of a broader global reckoning about farming’s impact on the environment and the steps some say are needed for mitigation.

In the Netherlands, farmers have dumped hay bales on roads and driven tractors along busy highways to protest government proposals to slash emissions of damaging pollutants.

In New Zealand, the government has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the country carbon neutral by 2050. Part of that plan includes a pledge that it will reduce methane emissions from farm animals by 10% by 2030 and by up to 47% by 2050.

Under the government’s proposed plan, farmers would start to pay for emissions in 2025, with the pricing yet to be finalized.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said all the money collected from the proposed farm levy would be put back into the industry to fund new technology, research and incentive payments for farmers.

“New Zealand’s farmers are set to be the first in the world to reduce agricultural emissions, positioning our biggest export market for the competitive advantage that brings in a world increasingly discerning about the provenance of their food,” Ardern said.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said it was an exciting opportunity for New Zealand and its farmers.

“Farmers are already experiencing the impact of climate change with more regular drought and flooding,” O’Connor said. “Taking the lead on agricultural emissions is both good for the environment and our economy.”

The liberal Labour government’s proposal harks back to a similar but unsuccessful proposal made by a previous Labour government in 2003 to tax farm animals for their methane emissions.

Farmers back then also vehemently opposed the idea, and political opponents ridiculed it as a “fart tax” — although a “burp tax” would have been more technically accurate as most of the methane emissions come from belching. The government eventually abandoned the plan.

According to opinion polls, Ardern’s Labour Party has slipped in popularity and fallen behind the main opposition National Party since Ardern won a second term in 2020 in a landslide victory of historic proportions.

If Ardern’s government can’t find agreement on the proposal with farmers, who have considerable political sway in New Zealand, it’s likely to make it more difficult for Ardern to win reelection next year when the nation goes back to the polls.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Jessica Day-Weaver holds a ceramic hand print of her daughter, Anastasia, at her home, Thursday, Fe...
Associated Press

‘Died suddenly’ posts twist tragedies to push vaccine lies

Results from 6-year-old Anastasia Weaver’s autopsy may take weeks. But online anti-vaccine activists needed only hours after her funeral this week to baselessly blame the COVID-19 vaccine. A prolific Twitter account posted Anastasia’s name and smiling dance portrait in a tweet with a syringe emoji. A Facebook user messaged her mother, Jessica Day-Weaver, to call […]
8 hours ago
FILE - This Dec. 21, 2022, image provided by Eisai in January 2023 shows vials and packaging for th...
Associated Press

Why a new Alzheimer’s drug is having a slow US debut

The first drug to show that it slows Alzheimer’s is on sale, but treatment for most patients is still several months away. Two big factors behind the slow debut, experts say, are scant insurance coverage and a long setup time needed by many health systems. Patients who surmount those challenges will step to the head […]
8 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks on the January jobs report in the Eisenhower Executive Office Bui...
Associated Press

State of the Union: Biden sees economic glow, GOP sees gloom

WASHINGTON (AP) — Going into Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden sees a nation with its future aglow. Republicans take a far bleaker view — that the country is beset by crushing debt and that Biden is largely responsible for inflation. And the GOP now holds a House majority intent on blocking […]
8 hours ago
Sri Lankan government soldiers march carrying national flags during the 75th Independence Day cerem...
Associated Press

Sri Lanka marks independence anniversary amid economic woes

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka marked its 75th independence anniversary on Saturday as a bankrupt nation, with many citizens angry, anxious and in no mood to celebrate. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has started to improve some but not all of the acute shortages, acknowledged the somber state of the nation, saying in a […]
1 day ago
FILE - President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Cong...
Associated Press

Biden makes progress on ‘unity agenda’ outlined in 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — A year ago, President Joe Biden used his first State of the Union address to push top Democratic priorities that were sure to face a battle in the narrowly divided Congress but he also laid out a four-pronged “unity agenda” that would be an easier sell. Biden’s unity goals would be hard […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

New California oil well ban put on hold for voters to decide

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s new law banning new oil and gas wells near homes, schools and other community sites has been put on hold until after voters decide next year whether to throw it out, officials announced Friday. Opponents of Senate Bill 1137 gathered more than 623,000 valid voter signatures to put a referendum […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
New Zealand proposes taxing cow burps, angering farmers