Will Trade Deal lift S&B Returns to Match Carbon?

Wednesday 27 Oct 2021

 
(BusinessDesk) The lucrative threat to rural communities – Carbon farming may be lucrative, but it creates a “great big mess that someone else has to clean up”, says farmer Kerry Worsnop.

“The policy framework has been designed so that as the carbon price goes up, hands down, without any competition at all, carbon becomes the most profitable option,” said Worsnop, who has a sheep and beef farm near Gisborne adding, “We’ve reached that point with sheep and beef. Actually, we’ve gone past that point with sheep and beef, and it's closing in now on dairy.”

What is the issue? There is a difference between pure carbon farming and forestry and also farmers opting to turn some of their land into forest – either native or exotic.

Plant and walk away – According to critics, carbon farmers essentially buy up pastoral land, plant the trees and walk away. They say there is no job creation beyond the initial planting, no lumber, and a whole raft of potential problems around fire hazards, biosecurity and pests.

The land-use change is permanent and there is growing concern that carbon farming can also spell a death knell for rural communities as a raft of infrastructure from schools to meat plants may no longer be necessary. But there is money to be made.

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