Greens pledge $297m for sustainable farming, promise to tackle nitrogen pollution

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The Green Party today released its Farming for the Future Plan, which includes banning Palm Kernel Expeller, levying nitrogen and phosphorous fertiliser and setting a "strong limit" for dissolved inorganic nitrogen in freshwater. 

Part of that was a pledge of a $297 million fund for transitioning to regenerative and organic farming. 

It also wants to crack down on food labelling, so more products would require country of origin labelling to encourage New Zealanders to buy local, and bring in standards to ensure labels such as 'free range' or 'cruelty free' are accurate. 

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said the recovery from the Covid-19 economic fallout provided a "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the way we grow and produce food".

"By making smart decisions now, we can create a farming sector that is good for farmers, people and the planet," he said. 

Shaw accused Governments of encouraging farming intensification and prioritising profit over the environment and tackling climate change. 

"This quantity-over-quality approach has degraded our rivers and waterways, harmed animals, and is warming the climate."

The Greens want to place a levy on nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers.

"Our vision recognises the environmental impacts of our reliance on harmful artificial fertilisers and imported supplementary feed, and incentivises people to move away from using these products and practises," Shaw said. 

They also wanted to phase in stronger limits to reduce nitrogen pollution and place a ban on importing PKE as supplementary feed.

"We will overhaul how we label our food so farmers can get a premium for producing healthy, sustainable food," Shaw said. 

In addition, the party promised to overhaul the  National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry  and shift away from using pine by diversifying tree species used in forestry.

ACT leader David Seymour said the Greens' Farming for the Future Plan won't raise productivity, and that it took years for a grower to convert to organic growing.

The ACT leader criticised the policy, which would tax people higher if they earn over $180,000 a year.

"What we need in the rural sector is for farmers to be treated with some respect and have regulations made that respect the efforts farmers already make to improve the environment," Seymour said.

"The farming community are the greatest conservations in New Zealand because their livelihood depends on the land."

He said the Green Party wasn't respecting the environmental efforts farmers were already making, such as riparian planting, fencing, crop rotation and the diversification of stock.