New Zealand’s agri sector urged to maintain focus on improving emissions efficiency – Rabobank

New Zealand’s agricultural sector would be wise to maintain a strong focus on improving emissions efficiency despite the current respite from local regulations, according to a new white paper by food and agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

The new paper titled Maintaining Our Emissions Edge is the third in a series of white papers developed by Rabobank aimed at helping New Zealand’s 50,000 farmers and the wider agri sector with the transition to producing more food with a smaller emissions footprint.


A regulatory breather for farmers ……

Launching the new paper at the Primary Industries Summit in Wellington earlier today, Rabobank New Zealand CEO Todd Charteris said many rural voices have been saying for some time that necessary transitions were being rushed and, in some instances, forced on farmers through unsympathetic government policies and stifling regulations.

Todd Charteris, CEO, Rabobank New Zealand

“The paper notes the new Coalition Government has taken steps to provide a regulatory breather for under pressure farmers. This includes removing agriculture from the Emissions Trading Scheme within an overall lighter touch regulatory regime,” he said.

“Taken at face value, this has given Kiwi food producers an expanded window of opportunity to transition their businesses.”

However, Mr Charteris said, it would be unwise for farmers and the Government to ‘coast’ during this respite before resuming the journey to sustainably reduce emissions from New Zealand agriculture.

“Other voices at the policy table are getting louder. These include those of the world’s most powerful food processing and marketing companies and the wider supply chain, who face significant regulatory pressure to minimise emissions,” he said.

“One recent review found that over 80 per cent of New Zealand’s exports are destined for countries with mandatory climate-related disclosures either in force or on the way.”

“At the same time, free trade agreements are increasingly laden with enforceable obligations on emissions and other sustainability targets. And this growing web of international obligations will not afford New Zealand food producers the same patience as the New Zealand Government has extended to them.”


…. but no time for coasting

Therefore, Mr Charteris said, Rabobank is encouraging farmers and the Government to avoid coasting, and rather use the reset of dialogue and timeframes to move the sector forward to protect its pre-eminent role in global food production.

“As highly efficient producers, New Zealand farmers and growers face at least equal opportunities as risks,” he said.

“More broadly, as a farming nation, over the past decade we have felt the impact of climate change manifesting at rapid pace in unprecedented weather patterns.

“Being New Zealand’s only specialist food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank believes that what’s good for the planet is also good for our clients’ businesses. Importantly, just as the issues around climate change and greenhouse emissions have not arrived overnight, nor will the solutions.”

“And in the interests of working constructively towards finding those solutions, Rabobank suggests New Zealand’s food and agriculture sectors will be well served to read the economic signals and maintain a focus on reducing emissions despite the current respite from local regulations.”


Three interlinked priorities

With this focus in mind, Mr Charteris said, the white paper further explores what the bank believes are credible solutions to maintaining New Zealand’s position as one of the world’s most efficient food producers.

“In particular, it outlines three interlinked priorities for moving the country’s food production system forward in a way that preserves that leadership position,” he said.

“The first of these is Knowing the numbers, which is all about authoritative benchmarking to identify efficient farming and set the standard for others in the sector.

“New Zealand agriculture currently lacks a robust framework of standards, guidance or benchmarks to enable proper and consistent measurement of the impact their farming practices have on land, water, and emissions. And establishing a consistent and trusted approach to obtaining farm-level data on GHG emissions is key to enabling reduction emissions within the agriculture and land sector.”

The second key priority, Mr Charteris said, is Clear and strong incentives to support efficient farms and uplift average performers.

“It’s evident that fostering meaningful change requires both ‘the carrot’ and ‘the stick’,” he said.

“To simply enforce change through the cascade of sometimes confusing rules and regulations adds compliance complexity, and financial and legal risks that only serves as a ‘stick’ to farmers. Paired with ‘carrots’, or clear strong incentives to farmers, more meaningful change is likely to happen.”

Mr Charteris said the final priority identified in the paper is Building an environment to drive innovation through R&D.

“Technology and innovation will play a key role in the challenge of meeting the growing demand for food while mitigating environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss,” he said.

“Building the right environment for innovation is essential and some of the key drivers for this include technology investment and a regulatory framework that

facilitates the approval and implementation of innovative solutions.”


This latest white paper can be accessed on the Rabobank website here.

Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 125 years’ experience providing customized banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 36 countries, servicing the needs of about nine million clients worldwide through a network of close to 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 27 offices throughout New Zealand.


Media contacts:

David Johnston
Marketing & Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525