O’Connor travels to the US – and avoids (for now) the turbulence from climate change policies

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”.

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