Robyn Edie / Stuff
Groundswell NZ leaders Bryce McKenzie, left, and Laurie Paterson want farmers and producers to boycott the agricultural production census until Statistics NZ agrees to use an emissions measure based on sound science and a warming effect approach. (File photo)
Groundswell NZ wants farmers to risk a $500 fine for not responding to Statistics NZ’s farm survey.
But Statistics Minister David Clark said having up-to-date, freely accessible agricultural statistics benefits all New Zealanders.
The farmers’ protest group wants farmers and producers to boycott the agricultural production census until Statistics NZ agrees to use an emissions measure based on sound science and a warming effect approach, says- he.
The possible fine for not completing the survey is a maximum of $500.
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Groundswell NZ founder Bryce McKenzie said the boycott was a direct action he could take to pressure the government to reconsider its stubborn commitment to emissions measurement which he said was not working for agriculture or the particular situation of the New Zealand economy.
“Groundswell NZ believes farmers should not be forced to provide data that distorts their emissions. We consider this a just and justified protest action,” he said.
The emissions metric used in the survey, called GWP100, overestimates the impact of agricultural emissions by 400%, as found in a study by an Oxford professor, and is one of the main reasons cited by those who want to punish farmers and producers for their emissions, he said.
“When it comes to emissions, agriculture is a different type of activity than the rest of the economy, because of the methane replacement cycle,” he said.
“If farmers were to meet the government’s 10% reduction target, there would be a net chilling effect.”
Statistics Minister David Clark said Stats NZ uses internationally recommended and accepted methodologies for GHG emissions statistics.
Stats NZ did not respond to questions about the impact of not completing the census.
A spokesperson for Stats NZ said the aim of the Agricultural Production Census was to collect data on agricultural production and practices to create timely, quality and comprehensive national agricultural statistics.
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It takes place every five years and is administered by Stats NZ in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries
Nearly 60,000 agricultural businesses are surveyed, including farmers, commercial growers and forest owners.
The survey asks participants about their production, land use and practices for the 2021-22 year ending June 30, 2022.