On Tuesday, as part of a strategy to combat climate change, the government of New Zealand suggested taxing the greenhouse gases that farm animals produce when they burp and urinate. A “Belch Tax,” if you will.
The government claimed that the “Belch Tax” would be a world first and that farmers should be able to recover the expense by raising the price of climate-friendly goods.
Farmer opposition to the scheme was swift. The idea would “rip the guts out of small-town New Zealand,” according to Federated Farmers, the industry’s leading lobbying group, and would result in the planting of trees in place of farms.
Andrew Hoggard, president of Federated Farmers, stated that farmers had been attempting to cooperate with the government on an emissions reduction strategy for more than two years.
Hoggard said, “Our plan was to keep farmers farming.” He claims that now farmers will be selling their farms “so fast you won’t even hear the dogs barking on the back of the ute (pickup truck) as they drive off.”
Only 5 million people live in New Zealand, yet there are 10 million beef and dairy cattle as well as 26 million sheep.
The farming sector is essential to New Zealand’s economy. The country’s main export is dairy, which is also used to create infant formula in China.
By shifting farming to other nations that were less effective at producing food, opposition MPs from the conservative ACT Party claimed that the scheme would actually raise global emissions.
Farms reportedly account for roughly half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, which makes the country distinctive due to its oversized sector. These gases produced by farm animals include methane from cow burps and nitrous oxide from their urine.
The liberal Labour government’s idea is reminiscent of a previous administration’s attempt to charge farm animals for their methane emissions in 2003, which was unsuccessful.
At the time, farmers fiercely resisted the proposal, and political opponents mocked it as a “fart tax.” The administration ultimately dropped the plan.