South Island drought a sign of the growing challenge for farmers

An Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report released today, highlights that climate change will expose farmers to more frequent droughts like the one being experienced in the South Island. It confirms that government and farmers must make stopping dangerous climate change a top priority, the Green Party said today.

The OECD report concludes that climate change is likely to increase competition for water resources, and exacerbate the challenges of meeting growing global demand for food. The report comes ahead of an expected announcement tomorrow from the Minister for Primary Industries that will extend drought status for the South Island, including provision of more financial support.

“Farmers are central to New Zealand’s success as an export based economy and have much to lose from destabilising changes to the climate. Cutting climate pollution has to be a top priority for all of us,” Green Party agricultural spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“We need a safe and stable climate to maintain farm incomes and our economic health.

“A major challenge and opportunity for farmers and New Zealand is how to continue to produce meat, milk and fibre products whilst reducing climate pollution which comes from farming livestock.

“Farmers can’t adapt to climate change on their own. Government can and must take the lead with policies which reduce climate pollution.

“Pricing climate pollution from agriculture would help to level the playing field for farmers who are already cutting pollution through less intensive stocking, and improved fertiliser and pasture management. Pricing would encourage diversification, and incentivise the breeding and stocking of animals with reduced climate pollution.

“The report notes the need for policies which address increasing competition for water by moderating water demand. National’s $400 million subsidises for dams and large scale irrigation infrastructure in an attempt to increase water supply have high environmental costs and do not promote more efficient use of water.  A price on the commercial use of water would help do this,” Ms Sage said.

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