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Farmers can't hide from climate change

"It is very disappointing to see farmers trying to deny that climate change has anything to do with them and the future of their industry," says the Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, Pete Hodgson.

"Agriculture is more dependent on a favourable climate than any other industry and it is the source of more than half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions. Yet New Zealand's farming leaders seem determined to respond to these facts by looking the other way.

"In objecting to a modest levy for research into greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, farmers are refusing to accept any responsibility for their industry's contribution to global warming. Many are insisting that climate change is simply not their problem. They could not be more wrong.

"Agriculture thrives in this country because the climate is good for it. Farmers should be more anxious than any other business sector to see action on climate change to protect their long-term interests. But the present generation of farming leaders is saying it will not even support more research unless someone else pays for it.

"The Government has recognised the importance of agriculture to the New Zealand economy by exempting it from emissions charges until at least 2012. The taxpayer will cover the cost that excess agricultural emissions over 1990 levels incur under the Kyoto Protocol. Taxpayers are also providing almost $5 million a year for research into agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and will continue to do so.

"All that farmers have been asked for in return is a total of $8.4 million a year to fund more research. If it is successful this research is likely to improve animal productivity and therefore farmers' incomes. But it seems that farming leaders would rather learn nothing, know nothing and do nothing."

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