National’s plan for reducing agricultural emissions

A National government will help farmers and growers embrace new technology to reduce agricultural emissions and reach New Zealand’s climate change targets, National’s Agricultural spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“National is committed to reaching Net Zero by 2050, but we believe New Zealand’s path to emission reductions in agriculture is through technology, not less production.


“That’s why yesterday National announced we will remove the ban on gene technology which will help give farmers the tools they need to reduce methane emissions, such as gene edited crops, feed, and livestock.”


Today we are announcing that National will:


  • Give farmers the tools they need to reduce emissions, including recognising on-farm sequestration, measuring farm level emissions by 2025 and updating biotech rules.


  • Keep agriculture out of the ETS but implement a fair and sustainable pricing system for on-farm agricultural emissions by 2030 at the latest. An independent board – with a power of veto retained by the Ministers of Climate Change and Agriculture – will be established to implement the pricing system.


  • Limit the conversion of productive farmland to forestry for carbon farming purposes to protect local communities and food production.


“New Zealand farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world. However, currently there is no technology widely available in New Zealand to reduce methane emissions. That means any environmental costs lumped on farmers will push up food prices or send production overseas to higher emitting countries. National will give farmers the tools they need to reduce emissions before charging them for their on-farm emissions – by 2030 at the latest.


“There have been huge developments in technology in recent years, including a methane inhibitor called Bovaer, which has the potential to lower livestock emissions by 30 per cent, but it currently faces a four-year approval process in New Zealand despite being approved for use in 30 other countries. National will streamline approval for these types of products.


“Recognising that the environmental impact of carbon dioxide and methane are fundamentally different, National will take a split-gas approach to emissions. We will review methane targets to ensure their consistency with no additional warming from agriculture.


“National will also require the agriculture sector to continue to invest in research and development to reduce emissions.


“National will recognise on-farm sequestration, allowing landowners to earn carbon credits through other forms of carbon capture besides tree planting, for example restoring wetlands.


“To prevent the loss of valuable agricultural land, National will introduce limits for new farm-to-forest conversions – including a moratorium on whole farm conversions to exotic forestry on high quality land from 2024.


“Labour has failed to achieve anything in six years. Labour rejected the He Waka Eke Noa industry proposal to reduce emissions, and instead proposed shutting down 20 per cent of sheep and beef farms, hitting farmers with a punitive fertiliser tax and sending production overseas to high emitting countries. 


“New Zealand contributes 0.2 per cent to global emissions. National is confident we can reach our climate goals by reducing agricultural emissions without closing down a sector that contributes over $40 billion to the New Zealand economy.


“A strong agriculture sector means a strong New Zealand economy which will help us to reduce the cost of living, lift incomes and deliver the public services New Zealanders deserve.”


Read our full Reducing Agriculture Emissions policy here.