Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern proposed the world’s first agricultural emissions plan in October to put the country on track to meet its 2030 methane emissions reduction target.

The New Zealand government announced changes to its controversial agricultural emissions reduction plan following concerns raised by farm groups.

According to a statement released on Wednesday, farmers will be allowed to use on-farm forestry to offset their agricultural emissions. Moreover, the government said it will keep the tax rate as low as possible to avoid overburdening primary producers.

“We are working hard alongside the agriculture sector to strike the balance between building good levels of sector buy-in, while also ensuring the system is robust and meets our emissions reductions goals,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a statement on Wednesday.

As announced in the original plan, all revenue from the levy will be reinvested in innovative research and new technology destined for farmers that adopt sustainable practices. ”The farming sector will have input into the decisions around recycling income raised by the levy back out to the sector,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said following Wednesday’s announcement.

“The Government is also urgently working with the sector to develop a process to recognise on-farm carbon sequestration, which is a top priority for farmers,” he added.

About 14% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions come from animal husbandry. Methane, a greenhouse gas that is predominantly generated from livestock and is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the planet, is also the second most abundant greenhouse gas on the planet, contributing 17.3% of global emissions.

In October, Ardern released a proposal for the world’s first tax on farmers, requiring them to pay a regulated price for the greenhouse gases emitted by their agricultural activities and livestock. The plan was immediately met with criticism, with lobby groups and farmers raising concerns that they would be hit by overwhelming costs and decide to abandon their land as a result of the tax.

Lobby group Federated Farmers released a statement following Ardnern’s proposal, saying that “[the group is] deeply unimpressed with the government’s […] proposal”, which will “rip the guts out of small town New Zealand, putting trees where farms used to be.”

Featured image: Flickr

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