Andrew Sliper of Landcorp spoke at our meeting on 21 September on challenges facing agriculture in 2022, particularly in livestock farming. Landcorp is the largest corporate farm owner and operator in New Zealand, with 365,000 hectares of land under management.
With an ageing workforce and difficulties in attracting staff, famers are dealing with skyrocketing production costs, rising consumer expectations around food quality and traceability, and pressures to lessen the environmental impacts of farming activities.
Climate change adaptation policies have led to a growth in carbon farming. Land can be taken out of pastoral use and converted to forestry in order to generate carbon credits. producing higher returns to the landowner than those achievable from livestock. While planting with native species may seem appealing, pinus radiata grows more rapidly and is therefore more profitable.
Carbon farming is likely to lead to the abandonment of much of this land once the eligibility for carbon credits expires at the end of the growing period, as the landowners are not required to manage the forest to produce millable trees.
Landcorp is responding to this dynamic by a mix of carbon farming on land unsuitable for grazing, with native planting along watercourses, and grazing land retained for livestock.