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Federated Farmers – climate change “probably” exists

Written By: - Date published: 11:35 am, December 23rd, 2022 - 49 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, farming, science, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

I guess this is progress.

Yesterday on Morning Report Federated Farmer’s Andrew Hoggard was interviewed on the Government’s response to submissions received on the Farming Emissions Reduction Plan.

His mouth opened up and lots of words came out of it.  Basically Federated Farmers do not want to reduce emissions because then someone overseas will emit more.

He talked about the latest science on how methane contributes to warming.

He questioned the data and had a weird analogy about how people need to lose weight.  He claimed that New Zealand farmers were among the fittest in the world which is true but it means that they are poisoning the world more slowly than their overseas counterparts.

He also said that although there was a climate crisis there was also a food production crisis.  He did not appear to understand that you cannot grow food on a dead planet and the two issues were actually interlinked.

He actually said the presence of more carbon would improve farming conditions because grass would grow more.

He was then asked if he thought that climate change was real and is happening.

He said, and I kid you not, “probably” and conceded that ten or twenty years ago he would have said no.  He also thought we would have to wait for 50 to 100 years to know for sure.

And he is part of more mainstream thinking amongst the farming sector.

They do not understand that food security does not have to depend on meat or milk.  A more vegetarian diet would do wonders for the world’s climate.

And they do not appreciate that the world is gradually but inevitably changing for the worse.  Hesitation caused by mucking around negotiating with vested interests is the last thing that we need.

This Newsroom scene captures our situation perhaps in a too pessimistic fashion but you get the drift.

To be frank the Government’s response is timid.

I appreciate there are political imperatives at play and the need for a deal was important.

But negotiating with climate change deniers and hoping to come up with something that will work is not going to get us the scale of change that is required.

49 comments on “Federated Farmers – climate change “probably” exists ”

  1. The truth is confronting and scary. Thanks for posting anyway.crying

  2. tsmithfield 2

    I am not sure if part of the Green plan is population reduction through forced mass starvation. But some of the curbs on food production in New Zealand and worldwide it seems that way.

    For instance, in Norway it looks like huge numbers of farms will be forced out of business.

    In New Zealand farmers are being encouraged to plant trees with a likely drop in food production.

    If we are serious both about the environment and in keeping the world fed, then I think nations that are not capable of producing food efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner should be reducing their food production.

    On the other hand, countries that are ideal for growing food, such as New Zealand, should be funding research that enables emissions from food production to be minimised as much as possible. And for the polluting aspects of farming to be cleaned up so that our environment is protected.

    This type of approach would require a co-ordinated world strategy. Otherwise, there will likely be pressure on food supplies world-wide.

    This pressure could result in the contradictory effect in that the political pressure resulting from this could cause governments to abandon emmission reduction from agriculture in order to keep their populations fed.

    We have already seen this scenario start to play out in Sri Lanka:


    From the article:

    “Agricultural economist Thibbotuwawa said the decision of former President Rajapaksa to ban chemical fertilizers in May 2021 also played a role in Sri Lanka’s economic downturn.”

    • mickysavage 2.1

      The solution is a more plant based diet. Conceptually it is not hard. More plants and less animals.

      • tsmithfield 2.1.1

        Sure. I don't fundamentally disagree with that. But it doesn't really take away from my point.

        New Zealand is ideal for food production whether that be vegetable, milk, or meat.

        Turning farm land into forests isn't going to help our food production whether it is meat or plants. And, we still need to find ways to produce our food in quantity, but also in an environmentally friendly way.

    • Robert Guyton 2.2

      "I am not sure if part of the Green plan is population reduction through forced mass starvation. But some of the curbs on food production in New Zealand and worldwide it seems that way."

      Please don't be a disingenuous idiot.

      • tsmithfield 2.2.1

        It might not be the plan. But it might be the effect. Look at what has happened in Sri Lanka for instance, as per the article I linked to.

        • lprent

          The only people who are deliberately trying to destroy world food production are idiots like the NZ farmers. Their extreme methane production for luxury products exports extreme weather and climate change into the efficient food production regions of the world.

          Kiwi farmers are directly responsible for droughts, floods, snowstorms, fire in the places in the world where the bulk of the worlds food is grown.

          Queue the usual tsmithfield avoidance patterns…

          • RedLogix

            A decade out of date but the broad numbers will still be correct:

            For gross emissions in 2013:

            • Globally, most GHG emissions are from energy production (78 percent, of which 43 percent is for electricity/heat). This was followed by agriculture (11 percent).
            • Carbon dioxide (from fossil fuels and cement, and land-use change and forestry) made up 76 percent of all global emissions, followed by methane (16 percent) and nitrous oxide (6 percent).
            • China produced 26 percent of global GHG emissions, nearly twice as much as the next- highest producer, the United States. New Zealand contributed 0.17 percent. The top 12 emitting countries produced nearly double the amount of GHGs produced by all other countries.

            Now the interesting aspect is that:

            New Zealand sells 95% of its dairy products abroad, which is a greater proportion than any other country. However, only 3–4% of the world’s dairy products come from New Zealand. Most other countries produce their dairy products largely for domestic consumers.

            So if NZ shut down it's entire dairy industry, we would reduce total global emissions by maybe 0.1% and leave 96% or more of methane produced by other countries from dairy production largely untouched. (In all likelihood production would increase somewhere else to make up for the shortfall we have created.)

            Which suggests that if NZ is going to act in this manner, we should also be asking every other dairy producing nation to shut down their local production as well. Any signs of such a negotiation being discussed?

            • Robert Guyton

              "So if NZ shut down it's entire dairy industry, we would reduce total global emissions by maybe 0.1% "

              Sure, but we would reduce our emissions by something like 50%

              Good effort, NZ!

              • RedLogix

                Probably more than 50% locally – but absent any effort to eliminate ruminant agriculture world-wide a rather meaningless one in a global context.

                Methane molecules not having a 'country of origin' label on them.

          • tsmithfield

            Iprent, I would agree that is the net effect of food production world wide.

            Which is why food should be grown where it can be produced most sustainably and efficiently and not where it can't. If we do that, the net effect should be an overall reduction in emissions, and we will actually be doing something about solving the problem.

            For instance, a recent Agresearch study shows we are the most efficient in the world in terms of our carbon footprint with respect to dairy production.

            What is needed is further research into mitigating the environmental effects. That could involve the likes of increased bio-fuel production, effective methods of dealing with waste from farming.

            • tsmithfield

              Furthermore, the Agresearch study linked to above makes my point.

              If world milk production is moved progressively from highest emission countries (e.g. Peru) to lowest emission countries, then, net emissions for dairy production will drop world-wide (assuming a direct transfer of the volume of production).

              That would of course result in other challenges, such as dealing with agricultural waste and pollution. So, any such move would need to be accompanied with effective mitigation strategies that keep water-ways clean etc.

              Something else I think we should be doing is to focus our food production on supplying regions close to us, such as Asia, India, and Australia. That would reduce the emissions associated with shipping. Also, there is a very large population base, meaning a ready market for our food production.

            • Incognito

              One commissioned study showed something that supports a desired narrative and it becomes a ‘fact’ and the ‘truth’. Not everyone is gullible and malleable.

              But the claim that New Zealand’s farmers are the most emissions-efficient in the world was made often, usually to make the point that if New Zealand's production falls under the HWEN plan, other countries filling the gap would actually push up global emissions – a scenario that is considered in the HWEN workings.

              The most often quoted evidence is a 2021 report by AgResearch(PDF), which was commissioned by the lobby group Dairy NZ.

              This concluded that dairy milk production here had a lower carbon footprint than in 17 other countries – and far lower than in most of them.

              “There is still potential to improve and achieve lower emissions, as other countries also advance their dairy sectors,” the report’s co-author Andre Mazzetto told Rural News.

              But in the fine print, the report noted Uruguay, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden and Canada were not far behind – and that “country-specific” emissions measurement factors used by New Zealand might give New Zealand an advantage which could vanish once other countries fine-tune theirs.


              • RedLogix

                Nonetheless – the only way for these methane emissions to be set to zero is to eliminate ruminant agriculture world wide – regardless of how efficient they may be.

                Seems to be the plan.

                The impact of this disruption on industrial animal farming will be profound. By 2030, the number of cows in the U.S. will have fallen by 50% and the cattle farming industry will be all but bankrupt. All other livestock industries will suffer a similar fate, while the knock-on effects for crop farmers and businesses throughout the value chain will be severe.

                This is the result of rapid advances in precision biology that have allowed us to make huge strides in precision fermentation, a process that allows us to program microorganisms to produce almost any complex organic molecule.

                These advances are now being combined with an entirely new model of production we call Food-as-Software, in which individual molecules engineered by scientists are uploaded to databases – molecular cookbooks that food engineers anywhere in the world can use to design products in the same way that software developers design apps.

        • Robert Guyton

          Your "Sri Lanka" example is tosh. I've heard it so many times from conventional farmers. Please try to parse the real situation, before tossing it into the debate!

          • tsmithfield

            At least I provided a link to an article. Perhaps you could link to something to refute that suggestion.

            BTW we employ a guy who has recently arrived from Sri Lanka. He said government corruption also had a lot to do with the situation. But the prohibition on fertilizers definitely played a par.

            • Robert Guyton

              Did he mention why the Sri Lankan government put a "prohibition on fertilizers"?

              You might believe they were adopting a pro-organic ideology…but they weren't.

        • Robert Guyton

          "Might not"?

          Don't be a disingenuous idiot!

    • lprent 2.3

      I am not sure if part of the National/Fed Farmers plan is world population reduction through forced mass starvation.

      Climate change causes extreme weather and massive rapid shifts in climate patterns. We are already seeing those. Anyone with a science background is aware of how much regional climate shifts have been happening in recent decades. This is especially the case in continental areas.

      Effectively the methane production producing luxury food exports in NZ has a direct effect in reducing the average efficiency of food production world wide by accentuating short term climate change from methane and nitrous oxides. This directly impacts the far more important plant food production in continental areas that are actually far more efficient than kiwi farmers at turning sunlight and soil into food.

      If we are serious both about the environment and in keeping the world fed, then I think that nations who are capable of reducing their climate change gases should do so sooner rather than later. This is especially the case for short-term climate change gases like methand.

      This will allow the worlds efficient farmers (ie not animal protien farmers) to produce food without being subject to rapid shifts into drought, flooding, extreme storms, abnormal snow storms, fire risks, the invasion of farming pests, etc due to climate changes and an increased frequency of extreme weather events.

      On the other hand, countries that are ideal for growing food, such as New Zealand, should be funding research that enables emissions from food production to be minimised as much as possible. And for the polluting aspects of farming to be cleaned up so that our environment is protected.

      Yes – that was proposed in 2003. Unfortunately some fuckwit farmers and politicians screwed that up then. Remember this – the "Fart tax" was specifically targeted toward doing the type of research you're suggesting.

      So for the last 19 years, kiwi farmers have been freeloading on the ETS system by causing taxpayers to have to pay more and become liable for more.

      And of course there are some basic issues with your understanding about food production efficiencies as well. For instance just shifting to not farming animal protein and farming plant protein is way more efficient in every possible way. So if NZ farmers wanted higher efficiency then they should just do that.

      NZ's bulk agriculture of the type supported by Fed Farmers almost entirely produces luxury products like meat, butter, milk proteins, and wool. It sells almost entirely to export – we export more than 60 times of our own goods that we consume locally. But is has no impact on any world hunger issues. It is sold as a luxury to the affluent who are already swamped with food choices. Because it is exported, it carries a very high climate gas cost.

      It does this in such a way that it produces large revenues, and very very little profit to the nation. It doesn't employ many people in farming and processing. Most of the profit is taken out of the industry as property interest payments to overseas banks and pension schemes.

      It isn't particularly hard to argue that the NZ economy and taxpayers would be way better off with dumping our bulk commodity agricultural exports and concentrating on other ways of earning a living.

      • Robert Guyton 2.3.1


      • bwaghorn 2.3.2

        "It isn't particularly hard to argue that the NZ economy and taxpayers would be way better off with dumping our bulk commodity agricultural exports and concentrating on other ways of earning a living.

        i would love to see your plan .outlined ,,with firm ideas on how you do it with out killing rural nz off ,and crashimg the economy.

        • Robert Guyton

          "firm ideas on how you do it with out killing rural nz off"

          You mean, "rural NZ" as it is right now, not how it could be under better management?

          Is "rural NZ" really such a splendid thing that it must be protected at any cost???

          • bwaghorn

            I love ot out here, it's hollowed alot from when I was a kid, due to farms getting bigger, but wouldn't want to be urban ,and being suburban would be the death of me I sure,

        • lprent

          "It isn't particularly hard to argue that the NZ economy and taxpayers would be way better off with dumping our bulk commodity agricultural exports and concentrating on other ways of earning a living."

          i would love to see your plan .outlined ,,with firm ideas on how you do it with out killing rural nz off ,and crashimg the economy.

          It is already happening. Not so much in rural. But you'd notice that I wasn't claiming that the rural sector was having a problem with farming – just that the whole of NZ is. That is especially while the NZ taxpayers are all paying directly and indirectly for climate change gas emissions, while farmers who emit 48% of NZ's emissions are still trying to avoid pay in the future, let along catch up on the 20 years deficit. Lazy freeloaders.

          The biggest problem with rural NZ is that they have a lot of deeply conservative farmer organisations and their members who waste their efforts trying to stop an in-rolling tide (at least for as long as current members are running their current farms). This isn't exactly an unusual or recent attitude.

          Back in 1977, I did a year working on farms to decide if that was where I wanted to build career. I worked on a town supply on the outskirts of Auckland, and then at Kinloch station in Taupo. I did that because both of my parents grew up in rural of semi-rural areas, and had brought at 88 acre block up by Puhio to indulge in weekend farming in my teens. I liked farming.

          But at age 17, working on farms, you could just see the lack of vision that they lived in a world rather than just inside their farms, communities, and NZ. That was why we had the corrosion of Supplementary Minimum Payments that were designed to hold over farming until prices rose.

          They didn't and wouldn't, so all that SMPs were was a massive welfare program for the support of farming and rural towns and hamlets that prevented the farmers from adjusting to a changing world. They basically were put in to keep a National government in power. So were the infrastructural projects of paving country roads and a multitude of other programs over the decades since.

          In essence property speculation and capital, plus the margins made offshore in transport marketing by distribution export most of the profit offshore. And farming has a ever decreasing level of employment for poor wages.

          In my view, about the only rural infrastructure that have provided any real support for rural economies since has been the slow roll out of faster data to smaller towns, and the expansion of courier routes into some rural areas. That at least gives the potential for being able to live in the country while working in the world economy. In time that should shift the rural economy.

          But since there is active resistance by the many rural conservatives to any kind of changes. Plus a economic incentive towards farming aggregation that just destroys the kind of rural communities that could support remote workers from other sectors.

          The tech sector that I finally selected to work in has burgeoned massively in the last 30 years. These days it employs 5% of the workforce in well paid jobs. A fair chunk of it is remote – especially now after covid. It is 8% of GDP, and it has double percentage digits in its usual growth rate. But more importantly it has a high export profit margin being realised in NZ because it isn't just exporting barely processed commodity products.

          If you want to revitalise rural economies, then that is exactly the kind of sector you need.

          Of course the real problem even with that is that the best candidates are the massive number of people that have exported themselves from NZ rural to urban. My partner grew up on a Southland farm, went to Invercargill after SMPs died, university in Dunedin and Auckland, now really doesn't want to leave urban. Which means that I don't either.

          Coming to think of it, all of the actual rural remote engineers that I know of are immigrants from the UK or South Africa or Australia with a smattering of kiwi urbanites like me who would do it. I keep looking at the West Coast.

      • georgecom 2.3.3

        2003 a levy proposed on climate bases that would be used to fund research into mitigation of the gases. many farmers and the national party howled in protest and ran around like headless chickens. what has changed much in 20 years? the climate has warmed, weather patterns are nore unstable. Whats changed with the farming voices and the national party voices? little I would say. Times up farming lobby groups, you had a free ride for 20 years, time to play your part

    • Tony Veitch 2.4

      This type of approach would require a co-ordinated world strategy.

      And therein lies the problem in a nutshell.

      How to tell Putin to stop his pointless war because we have a planet to save etc.

    • The Government in the state of Sikkim in Northern India began its program to go fully organic in 2003. It started by reducing government subsidies on synthetic inputs by 10% each year, coupled with major public funding, education and investment in transitioning its 66,000 farmers to certified organic. By 2014 it achieved this transition. All farmers are now certified organic, and the import, sale and use of synthetic fertiliser and pesticides are completely prohibited. Since the transition began, there has been a marked increase in water quality, which has, in turn, led to a significant rise in tourism, as the state now successfully markets itself as a health destination. https://www.greenpeace.org/aotearoa/story/the-state-that-proved-its-possible-to-go-100-organic/

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    “probably” Bwahahahahahaha!!

    Mr Hoggard looks the type that scarfs down double bacon sandwiches for breakfast, a pile of fried lamb chops for lunch with no nasty salad, and a New York cut steak swimming in cheese sauce for dinner…but hey, I don’t know him he could be vegan…

    But what is apparent are Federated Farmers stated policies and their deep love for the Natzos. There is reluctance and a swingeing attitude through their approach to change.

    NZ and the planet needs a shift to predominantly plant based farming/horticulture including a Cannabis industry.

  4. Binders full of Women 4

    I do wish the Greens would get over GMO. It can increase food production and reduce CC and the 'science is settled'.But it's a bogeyman and the Greens selectively choose which 'science is settled' they're gonna support.

    • Robert Guyton 4.1

      "It can increase food production"

      So can seizing prime growing land from indigenous peoples, drenching it with synthetic hydrocarbon-based fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides and growing a strictly limited range of crops – all good!

  5. Powerman 5

    Farmers, really agribusiness people are in denial– ever seen a happy one? Mr Hoggard have you ever looked out of your window? Your vision is clouded by dollar signs.

    [I fixed tiny error in e-mail address and removed URL from your comment – Incognito]

  6. woodart 6

    fed farmers are more of a union than taxpayers union, and are just as blue eyed. fed farmers do NOT speak for all farmers(you have to pay union fees), and are mostly re-active, not pro-active . fed farmers as a group do no active research, and asking their leader complicated questions is a waste of time. nearly as stupid as groundswill .

    • Graeme 6.1

      I started my working life on 1970's construction sites where the unions thought they ruled the place and solidarity was pretty staunch.

      I'm ending my working life doing doing development work on a large farm.

      Farmers, their leadership and politics are so similar to 70's union environment it's not funny. Solidarity is just as staunch in the Farmers Union, they'll die in the ditch to try and save the worst performers and then kneecap the best. And generally they aren't the brightest specimens, although I've met a few that do have something holding their ears apart.

      Groundswell is for the ones that find the Aotearoa Farmers Union a bit too liberal.

      • bwaghorn 6.1.1

        Yip ,and they can almost smell out ones like me who are a little different, the hatred of all things Ardern is growing out here, .

        • PsyclingLeft.Always

          I respect you for your views….and for still trying…. As I said I do know a few of the Farmers who want a World for their own (and others ) children, to not be burning….

      • PsyclingLeft.Always 6.1.2

        Farmers, their leadership and politics are so similar to 70's union environment it's not funny.

        Exactly. And so Ironic that for all their hating ON Modern Unions (who have been gutted/slashed ever since the rogernomic era) …they themselves are one of THE most Militant/strident and virulent. FedFarmers and particularly "groundswell". I personally do know a few reasonable Farmers, who do get that things must change for our Earth and all our Futures….And as hard as it is for we observers…must be way hard for them.

        • Graeme

          It's weird that farmers, and rural people generally see their world through a rather left wing lens of 'we' rather than the normal Nat / right view of everything's me me me. This is why they are so staunchly collective in their politics, it's about us, the farmers. It comes from a reliance on everyone around them, rural communities are very collective and co-operative, people help each other out and the strongly individual don't quite fit. Most of agriculture's larger, and not so large businesses are co-ops, and that's very much the preferred business model / structure.

          They then align themselves politically with the with a party that's all about the individual and intense completion between those individuals, and are so staunch in their faith in that party that they can't see the conflict in their allegiance. At heart farmers are actually very conservative lefties, they just haven't realised that yet. Probably explains why they tend to be grumpy fuckers and as an industry have a shocking suicide rate.

          It will be interesting to see where the Groundswell movement goes to. It's as much a protest against the farming establishment as the against the Government. It's also been hijacked by a lot of outside actors from all over the spectrum. I hope that it evolves into an alternative authoritative rural voice, or even several voices / organisations so that farmers can actually hear and debate differing views of their situation. At present there's not really a lot of alternative views, or acceptance that can even be an alternative view.

  7. Mike the Lefty 7

    What needs to be remembered is that Federated Farmers, despite what they may think, do not speak for all NZ farmers. There are plenty of farmers, many organic, who believe what science says and are prepared to work positively to reduce their carbon footprints. But unfortunately they are the type who tend to get on with the job quietly rather than publicly whinge and moan so it is the diehard FF who get asked the questions.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Somewhere that definitely shouldn't be growing food from an environmental perspective is China. Not only do they use four times more fertilizer due to their poor soil quality, this fertilizer has to be shipped to them, causing more global emissions.

    Not only that, soon they may not be able to grow food due to climate change anyway.

    China is already in the midst of a crippling drought that is impacting its ability to grow food with staggering implications for the world.

    At the same time, we are trying to restrict our farmer's ability to produce food, as are other countries, as I pointed out in my first post. So, New Zealand, a food producer, is trying to reduce its food production while a major population centre is losing the ability to produce it.

    Seems like madness to me.

    If China were to substantially reduce its capacity to produce food due to climate change, and more efficient food producing nations pick up the slack, the environment will be net much better off.

  9. remo.rogermorris 9

    It 'probably' does. Exist.

    But the 'reality' of whatever 'it' is; so corrupted by political agenda –

    confused by the agnotologists of the 'DAVOS' set'

    and their slippery technocrat elite;

    to war;

    that it's impossible to figure the truth of the matter.

    Easy to blame the farmer.

  10. Maurice 10

    Thought Cows and Sheep were eating plant based diets?

    We must not forget that Livestock Farmers slaughter and eat those pant based diet beasties ….

    • tsmithfield 10.1

      Yes, I consider myself an indirect vegetarian. I eat things that eat plants.

    • Peter B 10.2

      I do wonder what a pants based diet is. I'm going to take a stab its more a Pornhub thing than a Country Calendar thing.

      All of my herd are 100% vegan, right down to their leather jackets.

      • joe90 10.2.1

        I do wonder what a pants based diet is.

        Because what goes on in the rearing shed stays in the rearing shed….eh…

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