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Bridges to hear farmers’ concerns

Derek Daniell [below], the leading sheep breeder at Wairere Rams [above], will lead a conversation about the ‘inconvenient truths’ of climate change and farming. PHOTOS/FILE

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Wairarapa farmers are hoping to voice their concerns about the growth of forestry when National Party leader Simon Bridges comes to town today.

Farmers are invited to attend a ‘Farming Matters’ discussion chaired by David Holmes at the Carterton Events Centre, where Derek Daniell, the leading sheep breeder at Wairere Rams, will lead a conversation about the ‘inconvenient truths’ of climate change and farming.

Daniell said a group of concerned farmers had met to organise the discussion with hopes to inform Bridges of the issues farmers faced with proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme.

“We want to push back on this brain-washing of the general public that planting millions of hectares is the best thing for the long-term future of New Zealand,” he said.

“Now they’re planning on imposing the Emissions Trading Scheme on farmers and calling it subsidy. That really is picking on us and making us look like scapegoats.”

He said he was concerned the ETS would make farming more difficult as land was converted to forestry and farmers were encouraged to reduce the amount of grazing stock.

“I haven’t heard of any other country in the world that wants to shaft their main exporting sector or reduce their number of ruminants.

“The reduction in livestock and the reduction of land under grass is already substantial.”

He spoke out about the sale of Hadleigh Station, a 1050-hectare sheep and beef farm sold to a company which organises forestry investments, as well as afforestation in Pongaroa, Ngawi and Lagoon Hills, south of Martinborough.

Previous attempts to raise the issues with representatives from the government had gone unanswered he said, and Daniell hoped Bridges would be listening.

“I think it’s very important for the towns of Wairarapa.

“The effect [of forestry] on rural communities is going to be savage.”

Wairarapa Federated Farmers president William Beetham shared some of Daniell’s concerns and said it would be a good opportunity to get the opposition’s view on key issues for the rural sector.

“Those key issues are climate change policy, the review of the ETS and the future of our agricultural vocational training.

“We’re really interested in the opposition’s position on these and how they’re going to support farmers.”

Bridges will also speak with forestry industry leaders at JNL this morning before heading to the ‘Farming Matters’ discussion which will be held from 12.15pm to 1.30pm.

More information on the event can be found on the Facebook event page, facebook.com/events/2315396652008171/

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme is the Government’s main tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by putting a price on them and allowing foresters to earn money from New Zealand emissions units as their trees grow and absorb carbon dioxide.

NZUs currently sell for around $25 to $26 per unit.

The Government is looking at changes to the scheme likely to be introduced in the next few months, with an amendment to the Climate Change Response Act 2002 to align with the Paris Agreement.

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