Carbon farming economics stack up on sheep and beef land

Friday 19 Aug 2022

This last week I spent two days in Rotorua at the New Zealand carbon-forestry conference, Carbon Forestry 2022, where I was also one of the speakers. Both I and others presented perspectives on the path ahead for this new industry. There were close to 300 attendees plus an international online audience.

Although there was diversity of perspective as to how the industry might develop, I sensed no doubt that we all saw ourselves as being involved in something big that, one way or another, is transformational for New Zealand.

Most of the attendees were either forestry people already in the business, or alternatively service-industry people who either are already or in future want to be part of this new industry. There were also some Government and Climate Change Commission people there to help explain the current regulatory framework.

However, there were not many farmers at the conference, apart from those who were already in the business of carbon farming, and doing rather well, I might add. For me, the value of a conference like this is not only to hear the formal presentations, but to talk informally to a diverse range of industry people. That is how I can learn from those on the ground whether there is some key factor that I might have missed.

There was nothing there that made me change my views in any significant way, but there was information that helped further enrich what I have been learning in recent times about this fascinating industry.

One of the foundation points of my own address was that, if simple economics from a land-owner perspective is the criterion, then the answer is also very simple. On the sheep and beef lands of New Zealand there is nothing that can touch the economics of carbon framing.

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Keith Woodford was Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University for 15 years through to 2015. He is now Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems Ltd.

Source: Keith Woodford
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