New Zealand: Carbon Tax a Threat to Farming Viability

SheepBy Tim Cronshaw

Hororata farmer Gavin King would rather slaughter his sheep and cattle than pay an estimated $168,000 a year in carbon tax for belching and farting livestock.

He said few farmers seemed to realise the full implications for their farm business of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to reduce global warming.

Many farms would fall over depending on the final tax rate and it would severely hurt service industries, he said.

“We could survive, but I am not going to pay carbon tax on my animals farting and burping.

“I will kill all of them before I do that if it goes to that level, too right.”

King said he was prepared to pay carbon tax for greenhouse emissions from fuel used on the farm, but not for livestock emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. “I cannot accept a tax on animals doing a natural thing,” he said.

“They have evolved over thousands of years burping and farting and to think we can change that in a short time is stupid. Several hundred years ago there would probably have been more animals than today.”

He said for him, going into cropping would require more energy-consuming machinery.

“Farmers do not think it will happen, but once it is legislated the tax has to be paid, and if you do not pay, the IRD will send you a penalty and another demand and then we are dealing with a faceless bureaucracy.”

King calculated his “conservative” carbon cost for his livestock based on Meat & Wool New Zealand figures for methane and nitrous oxide rates of 360kg for sheep and 350kg for cattle.

If carbon traded at $25 a tonne, he estimated that he would pay $9 in tax for each sheep stock unit, comprising a wintered ewe and a store lamb (36% of $25/t is $9) and double that if it was $50/t.

Each beef cow, equivalent to six sheep stock units, would cost $52.50 ($8.75 a stock unit) at $25/t or $105 at $50/t.

King has 8840 sheep stock units and 1595 cattle stock units, so his yearly tax could range from $93,525 to $187,050, he said.

Carbon is trading on the open market in Europe for about $45/t and at this rate he would be facing a $168,000-plus emissions tax for livestock each year.

The Government proposes to have farmers begin paying the tax in 2013. Farmers will be liable for 10% of the tax bill, with the Crown paying the rest up until 2018. After this, the subsidy will be gradually phased out. From 2031 farmers will pay the full cost.

King said he was not prepared to pay 10% of the livestock portion ($16,834.50, compared with the Crown’s $151,510.50 at current $45/t) of the carbon tax as a matter of principle.

He also objected to the idea that New Zealand might have to balance its carbon book by buying credits from big polluting countries such as China and Russia, which had developing-nation status and big stands of forest.

Read the rest of this story at New Zealand’s 2008 “Site of the Year,” Stuff.

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  • Rob N. Hood

    Now new research published in Nature Geoscience shows that such frozen Arctic soil holds nearly twice as much of the organic material that gives rise to planet-warming greenhouse gases as previously estimated.

    “When the air temperature rises two to three degrees, the Arctic tundra would switch from a carbon sink to a carbon source,” says soil scientist Chien-Lu Ping of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “The greater the carbon stores, the greater the impact it causes,” including even faster warming in the already changing Arctic.

    A few years ago, scientists were predicting ice-free Arctic summers by about 2080.

    Then computer models started projecting earlier dates, around 2030 to 2050; and some researchers now believe it could happen within five years.

    But hey, they’re probably wrong, and socialists, so let’s ignore it.

  • !!! Oh no! Organic material?! Say it ain’t so! It must be filled with CARBON! What do we do what do we do? Burn it! Oh…wait! Maybe that’s why carbon dioxide levels rise when the earth gets warmer (rather than the inverse).

    And, yes, they’re wrong. I can program my computer to produce a model that would be a graphic demonstration of the Earth crashing into the sun in two years. Plug in some data and watch it spit out what I want it to. Doesn’t mean my model should be taken seriously… But what if I’m right?! The consequences are far too dire to just ignore it! What’s it cost to address it, in case I’m right? Only half the world’s GDP to build a fleet of giant spacecraft to escape the conflagration. That’s nothing compared to the cost of inaction! What if I’m right?! We must take action now and build the rockets! We’re running out of time!

  • vegan4life

    This is the price we pay for meat. Large scale farming is destroying our ecosystem. Humans were not meant to live sedentary lifestyles and consume huge quantities of meat. Australia should follow New Zealand’s courageous example. Farming in Australia is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. To ignore it is total hypocrisy.

  • I can’t wrap my head around the apparent reality that a person can look at a tax on animal flatulence and fail to see the scam. An expression comes to mind. Something about a big lie is easier to believe than a little one?

  • Ganz

    “The people will more easily swallow a big lie than a small one.” – Adolph Hitler.

    A big lie is a lie that is so enormous and told so brazenly that most people will swallow it without even thinking, especially if it isn’t testable in a person’s experience. Tell someone that there are 400 billion stars in the universe and they’ll probably believe you. Tell them a bench has wet paint and they have to touch it.

  • Mark J

    This has been a masterful plan for many years. I laughed at the government funded studies measuring the belching and farts of cattle so many years ago. I guess it wasn’t a total waste of money.
    With AlGore and his cronies set to make a fortune on the carbon trading schemes, this has the smell of insider trading. This is illegal in the private sector, but is praised as brilliant for those trying to “save” the planet.

  • joseph keith

    I still can not believe that this stupid global warming hoax is being so accepted by people. Governments love it when it subjects are so stupid they will accept this stupid lie that will allow them to apply another tax. Like George Orwells book “1984” tell the people anything and force them through law to believe it.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Ayup, we’re a bunch of dum-heads, duhuh!

    Not all of Earth’s methane was released millions of years ago. Methane clathrates are present today in Arctic permafrost and beneath the oceans at continental margins; they will remain dormant, it’s thought, unless triggered by warming.

    This trigger is a major concern because it’s possible that very little warming could unleash this trapped methane.

    Uncovering the methane reservoir could potentially warm the Earth tens of degrees and the mechanism could be very rapid.

    Such a fast uncovering of clathrates could have triggered a catastrophic climate and biogeochemical reorganization of the ocean and atmosphere around 635 million years ago, some scientists believe.

    The abruptness of the glacial termination, along with changes in ancient ocean chemistry and chemical deposits in the oceans, have been a challenge to climate scientists.

    “The geologic deposits of this period are quite different from what we find in subsequent deglaciation. “They immediately precede the first appearance of animals on Earth, suggesting some kind of environmental link.”

    Also called marsh gas, methane is a colorless, odorless gas. As a greenhouse gas, it is about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    Today we’re conducting a global-scale experiment with Earth’s climate system, and witnessing an unprecedented rate of warming, all with little or no knowledge of what instabilities lurk in the climate system and how they can influence life on Earth.

    Much the same experiment was done 635 million years ago, and the outcome is preserved in the geologic record. We see that strong forcing on the climate, not unlike the current carbon dioxide forcing, results in the activation of latent controls in the climate system that, once initiated, change climate to a completely different state.

    By the way, this is the third major extinction (that I know about -there may be more) caused by runaway global warming that mainstream climate scientists are saying was probably caused by methane hydrate release. This one is the biggest one, as measured by the simultaneous carbon and oxygen isotope anomalies, and took place about 635 million years ago. The others are the Permian/Triassic extinction event, and the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum. All appeared to be caused by CO2 and methane forcing of the climate, like we are doing right now with our massive and sudden release of CO2 from fossil fuels, and the rapidly increasing release of methane from thawing arctic permafrost. In past major extinction events, these preliminary CO2 and methane releases have apparently triggered huge releases of methane from oceanic methane hydrates.

    It appears that catastrophic methane release from methane hydrates (also known as methane clathrates) is the cause of many (perhaps even most) of the mass extinctions in the geological record. Certainly, there have been many smaller temperature excursions due to greenhouse gasses, as revealed by the simultaneous carbon and oxygen isotope variations revealed in sedimentary rocks and ice cores. Other extinction events, like the one that killed the dinosaurs, appear to be unrelated to runaway global warming, and appear to be associated with impacts from large meteors or comets.

    But, uh, nevermind, all that science stuff has made my widdle head hurt…

  • john curtis

    buttercup the cow
    here we are in our polypro vests
    blameing buttercup for this mess
    the pat from that cow was causing a smell
    but the price of a latte was $4.00 now
    was sat in the jam (traffic)
    slurping away
    and glanced at what the glossy new mag had to say
    it was that damm cow
    what had she been accused of messing up now
    our poor planet was doome to hell
    but back in the year 30 million bc
    our primevil planet was awash in pee
    now the t rex was haveing a poo
    after feasting on rotten brontosurus stew
    then the old boy was going to fart
    and running away was just being smart
    i can picture the ghost of mr t now
    laughing his head off at buttercups smell

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