Farmers would face a perfect policy tsunami in the agricultural policies of a Labour-Greens government, Federated Farmers vice-president Dr William Rolleston said.
This tsunami included adding agricultural emissions to the ETS, resource rentals for water, land and water plans put out by regional councils around the country and a capital gains tax.
It was not unreasonable to think a Labour-Greens government would be formed in 2014, he told farmers and scientists at a forum at Lincoln on the emissions trading scheme organised by the New Zealand Institute on Agricultural and Horticultural Science.
”We cannot sustain a tsunami of policies that drowns agriculture in a sea of red ink,” he said.
He gave examples of costs a Labour-Greens government would impose on farming including $40,000 a year if agriculture was forced into the ETS.
MAF modelling showed that had agriculture been in the ETS sheep farmers would have made surpluses in only two of the last four years and those surpluses would have been $4000 and $468.
Water resource rentals would add to costs, turning small profits into big losses.
All of New Zealand farms would be foreign-owned and all would be dairying because it would be the only way for land owners to achieve an economic return, he said.
Dr Rolleston also spoke of the extreme nutrient limits being set in land and water plans which would drive production levels down to those of hobby farms.
It could also trigger a banking crisis as the reality of digesting these policies all at once could sink the economy. Farmers would walk off their land and the banks would face a $48 billion write down of the debt owed to them in the rural sector.
“Foreign buyers funded by foreign banks would be the winners,” Dr Rolleston said.
Opposition to genetic modification meant the agricultural sector was being denied the tools to address its environmental responsibilities in the short timeframe demanded by environmentalists.
“It’s vital that the Greens and Labour wake up to the risks this policy tsunami imposes to the entire economy.”
This is strong speaking from the vice-president of an organisation which is non-partisan but it is not an exaggeration.
The Timaru Herald reports on farmers’ fears of needing consent to farm under Environment Canterbury’s land and water plan.
Farmers in other regions have similar concerns and if they are worried now they will be even more so under a Labour-Greens government.
I listened to an Opposition MP speak at a seminar recently.
It was under Chatham House rules so I cannot give any details. But I will say it left all of us listening with exactly the same view Dr Rolleston has on the devastating impact a Labour-Greens government would have not just on farming but the wider economy and society too.