James Cameron makes movies.
I haven’t, as far as I know, watched any, but the numbers of people who have and the money he has made from making them, suggest he’s very good at it.
He and his wife Suzy have chosen to buy farmland in New Zealand and convert it from pasture to organic vegetables, hemp, linseed and rye corn.
It’s their land they’re free to do what they want with it providing they don’t contravene district or regional plans in doing it.
They’re also free to tell us what they’re doing and why as they did on Sunday but I’d take them a lot more seriously when they criticise our farming and its contribution to climate change if it wasn’t for the hypocrisy.
How does the benefit from pastoral farming compare with the benefits from the films he makes, what’s the real value of food production in contrast to entertainment and what are the carbon emissions from both filmmaking and the frequent flying the Camerons do between their homes in New Zealand and the United States?
In an open letter to Cameron, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny explains:
Pasture-based New Zealand dairy production is the most carbon efficient dairy farming system in the world. In fact, you can ship a glass of New Zealand milk to the next most efficient country (Ireland) and drink it there and it still has a lower carbon footprint than an equivalent Irish glass of milk.
• In addition, pasture-based New Zealand beef production is top dog in the global carbon efficiency stakes.
• You might have already heard that our agriculture produces around half of the country’s carbon emissions, and while that sounds like a lot, the New Zealand agriculture sector produces enough food for around 50 million people or 10 times our population. The question then becomes how carbon efficient New Zealand agriculture is – and that takes us back to points 1 and 2.
• We also know to take the sustainability claims of alternative food manufacturers such as Impossible Foods (meat) and Perfect Day (dairy) with a large grain of salt. For example, New Zealand dairy has a much lower carbon footprint than Perfect Day milk on a like for like nutrition basis.
• As you rightly pointed out on Sunday, farming is in our DNA and you also noted that New Zealand farmers have that good old number 8 wire mentality. But there’s another secret that you may not know about Kiwi farmers. That is, they’ve had to farm effectively subsidy-free since the 1980s. In this context, our farmers have had to get smart and quickly, finding efficiencies that other (subsidised) farmers globally don’t even know exist.
For these reasons, local Kiwi farmers think there is a place in the future for pasture-based New Zealand meat and dairy. And with global food demand set to surge around 70 per cent by 2050, we think the world needs all the food it can get!
Measuring carbon emissions in isolation is a very blunt instrument.
As Rabobank managing board member, Berry Marttin, told Farm2Fork, we need to take into account nutrient density.
If we compare the nutrient density and overall value to the world of New Zealand pastoral farming with filmmaking and flying there’s simply no contest.
Something else to consider: