This is the headline that got me riled up but as is so often the case the headline does not reflect the actual story. Federated Farmers u-turn is not really a u-turn and it is not over the ETS or a tax on carbon emissions as such it is on the FART tax protests of years ago. I am not too familiar with that campaign, I just remember the tractor being driven up the stairs of parliament and I think it was Farmers Against Ridiculous Taxes (correct me if I am wrong) and it is largely to blame for the misconception that cows fart. It did show farmers in those days were prepared to fight their corner, they did have a campaign and it succeeded in that it achieved what they wanted back then.
If the FART tax had been a levy on research and nothing more it does not seem so bad in hindsight but there were issues for farmers then that I am not familiar with and the world is a different place now, so I think calling it a u-turn from all those years ago is a bit sensationalist.
But and the big but is farmers are paying for research through levies to Meat & Wool who gave $390,000 of their money to Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Consortium, Dairy NZ gave $468000 to the same, Fonterra gave money out of farmer generated income and so on. This consortium is handling millions of dollars and not one cent of it is being spent on helping farmers. That is because the research that will help farmers is the research that will determine what environmental effect these agricultural emissions are having.
As I say repeatedly unless you increase carbon dioxide or methane or N2O in the atmosphere you will not get any global warming. There is not one scientific paper or research outcome anywhere in the world which provides empirical evidence that agricultural emissions increase anything.
They know diddly squat about methane, they don’t know why it has not increased in the atmosphere for nearly 30 years and they don’t have a clue what if any impact enteric methane is having.
So let’s have a tax, let’s divert the money away from the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and put it all together for research but it must first and foremost be spent it on establishing whether agricultural emissions play any part in altering the atmosphere. My prediction is that it will find it does not alter the atmosphere in such a way as it could cause global warming and no more money need be spent. If it finds all enteric methane emissions do alter the composition of the atmosphere by increasing something then I will go away, farmers will accept something needs to be done and then and only then we can spend some money on researching mitigation options.