Greenpeace have resurrected their campaign against Palm Kernel Expeller.
Despite the many real issues facing the planet, Greenpeace New Zealand is back on its supplementary feed hobbyhorse. This time with a report written by a consultant who lives in the south of France.
“It must be summer because here comes Greenpeace again on Palm Kernel Expeller. You can almost set your watch by them,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.
“Wikipedia defines palm kernel expeller (PKE) as, “the leftovers after kernel oil is pressed out from the nut in the palm fruit. Palm kernel cake is commonly used as animal feed for dairy cattle because of its high protein content. If not, it is usually treated as biomass to fuel up boilers to generate electricity for use at palm oil mills and surrounding villages”.
“From a quick read of Greenpeace’s report I found a huge flaw in its logic. Their report wrongly treats PKE as a‘coproduct’ of palm oil, rather than it being a byproduct. It’s like saying orange peel is a coproduct of orange juice so must carry the same carbon footprint as orange juice. I think accountants call this type of error double counting.
“Greenpeace tries to use tonnage to talk up the issue, but that’s like saying a kilogram of feathers is the same as a kilogram of gold. According to publicly available statistics on the Malaysian industry, Palm Kernel Cake generates less than one percent of that industry’s export earnings. Being a byproduct, PKE is worth well less than one percent of palm oil’s value.
“Consumers deserve to know that 99 percent of the value derived from Palm Oil isn’t in animal feed. You can actually say some farmers are recycling a byproduct that would otherwise go up in smoke or be left to rot generating methane. Where’s the greenhouse gas sense in that?
If palm oil is such a problem, Green peace should be directing its efforts at the 99% of the industry which uses the product, not the 1% which makes good use of the by-product.
“Until we can get water storage infrastructure in place New Zealand’s farming system is subject to the vagaries of rainfall. The most cost effective supplemental feed is what is grown on-farm and thankfully, water storage is coming due to Federated Farmers’ lobbying.
“You are left with the impression Greenpeace’s questioning of our carbon footprint has an anti-trade dimension to it. This report could be seen as economic vandalism.
“The recent Caygill Report on the Emissions Trading Scheme said that since 1990, New Zealand agriculture has been cutting emissions in each unit of production by an average of 1.3 percent a year. That’s an environmental positive I would have thought.
“Individual farmers through their commodity levies are directly investing in greenhouse gas research and New Zealand is now a world leader in agricultural greenhouse gas research.
“If Greenpeace is truly about the environment, why aren’t they protesting against oil based carpets instead?
“Can you honestly say in a world of food scarcity that recycling PKE as animal feed is the number one environmental issue? Especially if the ‘high value’ product it claims it to be, is either left to rot on the ground or burnt as fuel,” Mr Leferink concluded.
A wet start to summer has enabled farms in most areas to make their own supplements.
But the weather can and will change and it’s possible some farmers will have to buy feed later int he season and PKE will be one of the options.
Even if they do, New Zealand dairy farming is among the most efficient in the world and the industry has been doing all it can to make it even better.
If supply drops off here it will be replaced by milk from other countries whose carbon footprints are much greater than ours. That will cost farmers, the wider economy and the environment.