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Opinion: HWEN - Every boat needs a bilge pump.

Opinion: HWEN - Every boat needs a bilge pump.

After quite some time in the making, goodness only knows how many hours of work by all involved and probably an eye watering amount of money, it would appear the Waka has been swamped by rough seas while at anchor.

It would be easy for us to begin to point fingers at those involved in it’s last and most current form and consider the entire process as being a complete failure. While there is a strong case for that, and hopefully all concerned will have been reflecting on the part they played along the way. Now isn’t the time.

Within the few days of the news that the Waka has sunk, a volley of ideas and thoughts have been put forward as an alternative.

From a blunt instrument such as a fertiliser tax or going to a processor levy.

But there still isn’t many decent ideas of how a levy or tax can be placed in a fair and equitable way on farmers to achieve the desired outcome in terms of emission reductions without one or more farm types becoming the collateral damage in the process with their communities that would also suffer as a result.

What I have noticed is that there are some industry group leaders very quick to shut down different ideas due to their self-interest for their respective groups, while this is understandable it is also disappointing to see that put ahead of the collective good.

It is encouraging to see grass roots industry groups emerging with more independent thought free of the shackles of siloed thinking, egos or blurry vision from too much time in Wellington, or much like the HWEN process was with the Government effectively telling partners to pick winners and losers or they’ll lump us all into the ETS anyway.

Not a great foundation to build a mighty Waka from!

The Groundswell team will apparently have a ‘no tax’ scheme that encourages emissions efficiency via best practice management.

There are some potentially good ideas too from the Future Farmers Group who are a bunch of young people with a farming background, they have put considerable time into a detailed manifesto of their vision for the future of agriculture in New Zealand.

Now definitely is the time for some good independent thought to rise with some simple, practical ways of addressing this wicked problem in a way we get the best outcomes for the investment.

 I don’t think we should be looking towards the leaders that have contributed to the journey so far for solutions.

After all, we can’t solve problems with the same thinking used to create them in the first place.

by Duncan Humm, NZ Farming