As The Daily Wire reported last week, New Zealand proposed the first-ever tax on farm animal emissions. It claimed that those in the agricultural industry could recoup that tax money by charging customers more for their eco-friendly items.
Thousands of people in the agricultural sector protested the potential tax on Thursday. Groundswell New Zealand organized the event, and its co-founder, Bryce McKenzie, said rural areas would be harmed.
“The government’s ideological commitment to punitive and counterproductive emissions taxes on food production is an existential threat to rural communities,” McKenzie said, adding that the move would be counterproductive. He said whatever reductions that occur “will be replaced by less efficient foreign farmers.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor acted as if the tax would essentially be a good thing for farmers, but the people who would potentially be impacted don’t appear to feel the same way.
“New Zealand’s farmers are set to be the first in the world to reduce agricultural emissions, positioning our biggest export market for the competitive advantage that brings in a world increasingly discerning about the provenance of their food,” Ardern said, noting that the fees garnered from the tax would go back into the farming industry.
“Farmers are already experiencing the impact of climate change with more regular drought and flooding,” O’Connor said. “Taking the lead on agricultural emissions is both good for the environment and our economy.”
Farmers spoke out at the time, with the Federated Farmers lobby saying the proposal would “rip the guts out of small-town New Zealand” and reduce the number of farms in the country, which has 10 million dairy and beef cattle, as well as 26 million sheep. The nation itself only has around 5 million people.
Critics say the end result of the tax would likely be more farmers leaving the industry altogether.
Dave McCurdy, a farmer protesting on Thursday, said farmers care about the environment and treat it well.
“It’s our life, our family’s lives,” he said. “We’re not out there to wreck it, we wouldn’t make any money. We love our farms. That’s what annoys us. We’re painted as these bad guys, but many farmers have spent generations looking after that land.”
McCurdy said that many farmers would suffer if the proposal and herd cutbacks move forward. “I’m out,” he said. “Waste of time.”