Greens Warned Fertiliser Tax ‘Will Create Pressure On Farmers’

The Green Party is being warned that a fertiliser levy
is not a solution to more sustainable farming

Ashby runs a dairy farm in North Canterbury. Photo: RNZ /
Charlie Dreaver

The Greens unveiled
its agriculture policy in Canterbury at the weekend, where
the party announced its plans
to levy nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser

They also want to establish an almost $300
million fund for the transition to regenerative and organic

Environmental consultant Dave Ashby runs a
dairy farm in North Canterbury.

Keeping animals fenced
out, planting along the banks and adding oxygen weed are
just a few of the measures he takes to keep his waterways

To prove how clean the water is at his man-made
drain he took a handful and drank it.

“So this takes
all the water off my dairy farm and I just drank it right in
front of you,” he said.

He said farmers were working
hard to farm more sustainably, especially through farm
environment plans (FEP).

“Plans are more now diverse,
they include not only the irrigation and nutrient and soils
and the management of animal effluent, they also include
things such as water use, biodiversity and also provision
for mahinga kai and other cultural needs.”

Ashby said
in Canterbury those plans (FEPs) are then

Party co-leader James Shaw. Photo: RNZ / Samuel

But on Saturday the Greens
announced its plan to make farms more environmentally

Co-leader James Shaw said the party planned
to introduce a $297m fund over three years to support
farmers into regenerative or organic farming.

dairy sector themselves know and are working with other
sectors and with government in order to provide this
transition towards more sustainable forms of farming that
have lower greenhouse gas emissions and less nitrogen going
into our soils and into our water.

“Much of this came
from them saying look we want to actually be the solution
here but people need the support and so that’s what we are
trying to do,” he said.

But with the carrot comes the

The party plans to pay for that fund in part
using $33.9m raised through a nitrogen and phosphorous
fertiliser levy.

The levy will be 2c per every kilo,
which the party claimed would cost the average dairy farm
$1515 annually.

But Ashby said that would not make
farming more sustainable.

“A better thing to do rather
than a tax is to benefit farmers to help them complete farm
environment plans and maintain those plans.

“A farm
environment plan, in my opinion, is the vehicle to change, a
further tax to farmers will create further pressure on
farmers and will create another layer of cost to the farming
industry,” he said.

The Greens’ policy also included a
limit on dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in waterways of
1mg per litre.

It would also want to progressively
reduce nitrogen fertiliser application to the 150kg per
hectare national average within two years.

Party agriculture spokesperson David Bennett said the
Greens’ proposed nitrogen limits and levy would be
devastating for farmers, in particular, the dairy farming

“At a time when we need agricultural exports
more than any other time because of what has happened with
Covid and the borders the Green Party wants to send
agriculture back 100 years.

“That will really limit
our ability to sustain the economy in very dark times,” he

Bennett said the policy was a slap in the face
for farmers.

Original article here.

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