Climate Change Minister James Shaw keen to put away talk of urban-rural divide

The Climate Change Minister tried to put away talk of an urban-rural divide when he visited a Wairarapa farm on Friday.

But farmers are still waiting for the Government to answer an important question.

James Shaw was keen to get his gumboots dirty after debuting a conspicuously clean pair during his visit to Kaiwaiwai Farm.

"I really want to be seen to be working alongside the industry, who are trying to solve those problems to do with water quality, to do with climate change."

He was visiting the dairy farm in South Wairarapa, a Fonterra poster child for good environment practise.

"We have to get past the idea that this is somebody's fault and somebody else's problem to fix," he said.

"I think it's all of our problem to fix and we've got to get past the blame game."

The blame game ramped up during the 2017 election campaign, culminating in Morrinsville farmers protesting Jacinda Ardern's proposed water tax - scaremongering about a Labour Government was rife.

"The country is knackered, if it gets in," a farmer said at the time. Labour did get in, but farmer Vern Brassel isn't worried.

"Oh, it's not the end of the world," he said.

He said, regardless of politics, farmers have a social responsibility to do something about climate change - and these days, it's hard to ignore.

"Once I used to know where summer, autumn and winter were," he said. "They can turn up any day now."

He and fellow shareholders of Kaiwaiwai are already well down the environmental track.

A man-made wetland, roughly a hectare in size, acts as a kidney for the surrounding drain water, removing nitrogen and distributing it back.

Mr Shaw wants to see more farmers also making such sustainable use of their land, but he's not prepared to say we've got too many cows.

"We're at peak pollution, In fact, we've passed peak pollution and that's what farms like this are demonstrating - there are ways to rein that back."

The Government's Climate Commission will consider whether agriculture goes into the emission-trading scheme.

That decision's not expected for another year.