Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is in Washington for what he calls “timely” talks with his counterpart, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
He is probably relieved to be out of the country while the rural backlash against the government’s scheme to impose charges on agricultural methane emissions gains momentum.
The Fonterra Shareholders Council, calling the government’s proposed 2050 methane reduction target “catastrophic” for NZ, contends
“… a target which potentially requires almost half of the livestock farming sector to disappear within 30 years would necessitate a rate of change which does not represent a fair and just transition for rural NZ.”
The council points out NZ livestock numbers form only a tiny fraction of the 1.6 billion cattle, 1.4 billion sheep and 1.2 billion goats farmed globally.
Point of Order will be surprised if O’Connor has the nerve to ask when the US Agriculture Secretary is planning to impose any target on the reduction of agricultural emissions in his bailiwick.
Yet the NZ cattle herd at just over 10m is just a fraction of the 95m in the US herd.
O’Connor made it clear before he left NZ his goal in Washington is
“ … maintaining good relations as a key component of keeping two-way trade flowing, which in the year ending March 31 was around $18bn”.
Whether he will raise the issue of a free trade agreement with the US is also not clear but we would think if it is, it will only be in passing.
O’Connor himself said his meetings (in Washington)
“ … will provide a timely opportunity to talk about NZ’s expertise in agriculture, our priorities, and the work of the Primary Sector Council and its development of a vision for NZ’s primary sectors“.
Maybe he will be able to persuade Perdue to come to NZ to find out why this country is trying to be world leader in reducing methane emissions.
Point of Order thinks O’Connor might have better luck when he joins other primary industry leaders at Stanford University for the annual Te Hono Stanford Bootcamp.
The Bootcamp is an intensive programme, bringing together a diverse group of around 70 chief executives and leaders who are committed to the innovation and transformation of NZ’s primary sectors.
“We will be immersed in discussion about strategic change, alongside a range of experts from Stanford University. Moving the vision to action will require stronger government and industry partnership than ever before.
“It’s an ideal opportunity to work through the Primary Sector Council’s vision, its implications and its delivery with the most senior and influential voices from across NZ’s industry”.