New Zealand farmers protest plan to tax cow burps
Wellington, Oct 20: Farmers gathered across New Zealand on Thursday to protest a controversial government proposal to tax livestock emissions.
The levy, which is still in the consultation phase, would be on methane and nitrous oxide emissions produced by New Zealand's livestock population of six million cows and 26 million sheep.
The government announced the plan last week in a "world's first" bid to combat climate change and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
What do the farmers want?
The protesting farmers took to the streets with convoys of tractors and farmyard vehicles. They were demanding the government drop the plan, which they said would harm their livelihood and make food more expensive.
Bryce McKenzie of the demonstration's organizers from the farming group Groundswell, told state broadcaster Radio New Zealand that the farmers were not inherently demanding exemptions.
"Let's work out how it's going to be best for the farmers and the country; the problem being is that if you just charge willy nilly for something that you actually have no solution to, then it's a tax," he said.
McKenzie called the plan "punitive" and "an existential threat to rural communities," claiming that instead of reducing emissions, "reductions will be replaced by less efficient foreign farmers."
The number of protesters was reportedly lower than what the organizers had expected, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Farmers, government seek common ground
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has argued that the plan could benefit farmers if they raise the prices for climate-friendly products.
"We are out talking to our farmers and food producers as to the best possible design," she told reporters in Auckland.