We at Groundswell NZ have already had a busy start to 2023. Can you believe January is almost over?
This update is to let you know what we've been working on behind the scenes.
Writing to rural businesses and banks
In December, we wrote to meat and dairy companies, as well as nationwide rural service companies across New Zealand. We asked if they had crunched the numbers on the coming rural downturn caused by the Farming Tax and unworkable regulations.
If the Farming Tax comes in, it's not just farmers who will be impacted. Rural businesses, services, and communities will also be affected. We offered to help, working together to use the Groundswell NZ platform to get their situation publicity. Unfortunately, we haven't received many replies yet. But, it has just been Christmas, so we will start following up next month. We will keep you posted!
We are about to similarly write to all the banks, but with more specific questions. For example, whether they are basing lending decisions on farms’ emissions or environmental plans. Farmers are under extreme pressure and the last thing they need is more pressure from banks pushed by unworkable regulations. Again, we will keep you posted once we hear back.
Keeping the Government honest
Last year, Groundswell NZ joined the boycott of the 2022 Ag Production Census. We encouraged food producers to refuse to provide information to Stats NZ until the Government switched to using the fairer GWP* metric for greenhouse gas emissions. This metric gives the proper weight to the impact of agricultural emissions, rather than the less accurate GWP100 metric that the Government still uses, and makes the impact of agricultural emissions look worse than it really is.
We made an Official Information Act request to Stats NZ about the response rates for the Census to see how many food producers have stood firm and not filled out their 2022 Ag Production Census forms. They told us that only 67% of farms responded on their provisional numbers, which is well down on previous years. Thanks to everyone who took a stand and made a difference. We will continue to push for Stats NZ and the Government to use the latest science in their calculations, and adopt the GWP* metric for emissions.
We also recently received back an Official Information Act response about the Farming Tax consultation from the Ministry for the Environment. We asked how many submissions were received on the Farming Tax proposal and where they came from. Over 16,000 people used our submission tool website to send a submission. We wanted to compare that to the submissions sent via our industry bodies (Beef+Lamb NZ and Dairy NZ) or through the ministry website.The total received was 20,000, making the submissions from Groundswell NZ supporters the overwhelming majority of submissions. So again, well done to everyone who submitted. However, the Government didn’t break the data down any further, as they say it will all be made public “soon”. We will keep an eye out for the figures, make sure it is all made public, and let you know what we find.
It takes more than just the tractor protests to hold the Government accountable and this less headline-grabbing advocacy for food producers and rural communities takes time and resources as well. If you can, consider joining the fight by contributing at www.groundswellnz.co.nz/donate.
Beef+Lamb board election
We had a busy couple of weeks promoting registration for the Beef+Lamb NZ election coming up in March. Initially, the Beef+Lamb NZ website said the electoral roll registration closed on 20 January, but this week they issued an apology and said their website was wrong and you can actually still register to vote electronically up until 21 March.Click here to check if you qualify and register. Every vote matters in pushing our farming advocacy bodies to stand up for their members. You have to pay the levy either way!Beef+Lamb yesterday released a manifesto of policies (you can read it here). Groundswell NZ is pleased to see they are finally on the same page as we have been for the past two years, asking the Government to slow down on the unworkable regulations. They are, however, still agreeing with the Government that an emissions tax is a good thing. The Groundswell NZ position is clear - NZ food producers (the most sustainable in the world) should not have to pay ANY emissions tax.
New Prime Minister
Finally, with the big news that Ardern is out and Hipkins is in, we’re hopeful, but not optimistic, that the new leadership will be more open to changing course on the Farming Tax and all unworkable regulations. With the polls still tight, we’ll make sure all the politicians know that Kiwis across New Zealand and from all walks of life back our food producers and rural communities against misguided taxes and counterproductive regulation.The months leading up to the October election are going to be full on!