Levelling the Grazing Paddock
Keywords:agriculture, emissions, option for change, pollution, subsidies, taxation
This article assesses the financial contribution made by the primary sector in terms of taxes paid. It also reports on some of the subsidies, concessions and other forms of assistance that the primary sector receives from the government. We provide illustrative examples of indirect subsidies to intensive farming. We also provide examples of farmers being paid to de-stock their land. In highlighting the significant direct and indirect financial subsidies to the agriculture sector, and concluding that national and local governing bodies are reluctant to take direct action that results in costs to farmers, we propose the radical solution of paying the polluters to stop polluting. This approach has recently been adopted in Europe and is also already in place in Taupö and Rotorua. While it will be unpalatable to many who do not pollute, it overcomes the current self-interested stymieing of reform by polluters. As a one-off payment, it could provide a quick resolution to mitigate ongoing harms. It also addresses the privatisation of profits for polluters and the socialised costs that are otherwise passed on to future generations.
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