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Blow-up over methane not surprising

Meat New Zealand Chairman Jeff Grant is not surprised by the angry reaction directed at Government officials over the proposed tax on livestock emissions. "Farmers have been against the Government ratifying the Kyoto Protocol ahead of our international competitors in the first place, and Meat New Zealand has been supportive of that stance," he said.

Government officials have been greeted by fiery receptions from farmers at the consultation meetings they have staged to discuss the levy on livestock methane emissions. Grant said the meeting in Christchurch today will likely bring more of the same. "Initially we were told that there would be no tax on livestock methane emissions. Then we were told that to avoid a tax we should invest in research in the area, which we have done by way of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC)."

Meat New Zealand joined with Wrightson, Fonterra, DEEResearch and AgResearch to invest $800,000 per year into targeted research to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. Coupled with Government funding through the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST), $1.6 million was invested in the first year alone.

"The agriculture industry strongly believes that if any further research investment is needed, they should fund it through general taxation," Grant said.

"Agriculture contributes 17 percent of New Zealand GDP - more than other countries - but by endeavouring to meet the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol all New Zealanders will benefit. This is essentially a public good and therefore be Government funded," he said.

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