New Zealand farmers are resisting government plans to tax the greenhouse gases farm animals produce by burping and peeing in a bid to curb climate breakdown.

The “world’s first” farm tax would allow farmers to recoup the cost by charging more for climate-friendly produce, the government hopes.

“New Zealand farmers should be the first in the world to reduce agricultural emissions, positioning our biggest export market for the competitive advantage that brings an increasingly demanding world about where their food comes from,” said said the prime minister. Jacinda Ardern said.

All the money raised through the proposed farm tax, which farmers would pay from 2025, would be funneled back into the industry to fund new technology, research and incentive payments for farmers, Ms Ardern said.

The proposal will provide financial incentives for farmers to use technology that reduces burping in sheep and cows.

But farmers foresaw the plan, with lobby group Federated Farmers saying the plan would “rip the guts out of a small town in New Zealand” and see farms replaced with trees.

They say rising costs will encourage farmers to turn their cattle and sheep farms into forests.

Group chairman Andrew Hoggard said farmers had been trying to work with the government for more than two years on an emissions reduction plan that would not reduce food production.

“Our plan was to keep cultivating farmers,” Mr Hoggard said.

Instead, he said farmers would sell their farms “so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking in the back of the ute (pickup truck) as they drive away”.

Andrew Morrison, chairman of farm lobby group Beef + Lamb New Zealand, said while farmers know they need to do their part to tackle climate change, the amount of farmland in forestry needs to be recognised.

New Zealand’s agricultural industry is vital to its economy, with 10 million beef and dairy cattle and 26 million sheep far exceeding the country’s population of five million.

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Extensive industry makes New Zealand unusual in that around half of its emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases come from farms, with methane from cattle burps and nitrous oxide from their urine being the main ones. guilty.

But more climate change means worse impacts for farmers, the agriculture minister said.

“Farmers are already feeling the impact of climate change with more regular droughts and floods,” said Damien O’Connor.

“Taking the lead on farm emissions is good for the environment and our economy.

The proposal is now subject to consultation and will have to be promulgated before being put into effect.

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