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Caution urged over carbon farming issue

Tairawhiti is fast becoming a carbon landfill and carbon will sink this region if we are not extremely careful, AgFirst agribusiness consultants Peter Andrew and Rob Hayes say.

The two men have weighed in on the carbon farming issue that is gathering momentum here and elsewhere around the country.

“Wholesale exotic planting of farmland in trees for carbon is a very short-term outlook,” they said. “It makes absolutely no sense for our district or for New Zealand yet our Government is prepared to just let it happen.

“You can safely claim carbon for about 17 years with pine forests and at current carbon prices make some incredible money.

“After that it becomes a potential liability and who is going to be left with that liability?”

Mr Andrew and Mr Hayes said two of the major problems faced were climate change and feeding the world.

“New Zealand farmers are among the most carbon efficient producers of food in the world. They are continuing to strive to be even more carbon efficient. It makes no sense on a world scale to reduce the production of protein from our farms just to reduce the small amount of carbon New Zealand produces,” they said.

“The protein will still be required in the world and produced with a higher carbon footprint, so we need to promote our farmers and protect our farmland.”

The pair said there were some excellent farms for sale.

‘With carbon driving land prices, those properties are in danger of becoming part of a carbon landfill that will provide no long-term benefit for our district and very few employment outcomes.

“As a district we need to combine the best benefit of all land uses for the long-term sustainability of our district.”

• For further comment on the carbon farming issue, see this story in Focus on the Land section.