No reason for 'carbon guilt' over NZ meat, milk, says Fed Farmers

A national farming group says Kiwis don't realise how much better New Zealand is at low-emissions farming than other countries.

The comments come after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on the climate, focused on how land use is driving climate change and what needs to be done to mitigate the negative impacts. More than 7000 studies were analysed for the report.

Federated Farmers' climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said it was worth highlighting that the report doesn't tell people to stop eating meat and dairy. 

"In fact it says the opposite - it highlights the value of a low-emissions diet, which includes protein from animal products," he said.

There is growing concern amongst farmers that New Zealanders believe the best way out of the climate change dilemma was to cut back on farming animals.

Andrew Hoggard says we should be showing the rest of the world how to farm like we do.
Andrew Hoggard says we should be showing the rest of the world how to farm like we do. Photo credit: AM Show

"This simply isn't the case. This is not the way to alleviate our 'carbon guilt'," said Hoggard. "What we should be doing is trying to figure out how we get the rest of the world to farm like we do."

The report highlights the impact deforestation is having around the world, where countries are essentially swapping native forest for food cultivation.

"This means those countries are trying to prioritise feeding their own people. And that's being done at the expense of the environment."

Hoggard said New Zealand has it the other way around. 

"We are arguing about where to plant more trees, not where to cut them down. Only 10 percent of our food production feeds our own people. We are essential to the diets of many people, in many other countries. And we do it in an extremely emissions-efficient way."

Lincoln University associate professor of agribusiness and economics Anita Wreford was the only New Zealander to contribute to the report. She told The AM Show the report had a big focus on sustainable land management, but farmers weren't the only ones in the firing line.

Lincoln University associate professor of agribusiness and economics Anita Wreford contributed to the report.
Lincoln University associate professor of agribusiness and economics Anita Wreford contributed to the report. Photo credit: Newshub

"The report is quite careful to not focus only on farming systems. So it does identify options for farmers to reduce their impacts on the environment, and New Zealand farmers are probably very well aware of lots of these mechanisms," she said. 

"But what the report really also does is look at the food system as a whole, and emphasises that we all have a role to play in the food choices that we make, and the food that we waste as well. If we reduce the amount of food waste, it can take a lot of pressure off the land."

Newshub.

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