25 Aug 2020
For Toitū Envirocare
Toitū Envirocare’s new farm carbon certification programmes can help New Zealand’s thousands of pastoral farmers take advantage of huge market opportunities for sustainable products and position them well in advance of possible Government regulation.
The market opportunity is massive with a Unilever study showing about a third of consumers in the United States, Europe and Asia are choosing produce purchases based on environmental considerations. Research shows sustainable dairy products can earn a price premium of up to 47 per cent.
The primary sector and the Government last year signed a joint action plan, He Waka Eke Noa, to measure and reduce primary sector carbon emissions by 2025 or for the sector to face being enrolled in the Emissions Trading Scheme.
To support farmers to meet these demands the Government-owned environmental certifications provider Toitū Envirocare has partnered to take its tried-and-tested carbon reduction and certification programmes for commerce and industry and tailored them to develop New Zealand’s first carbon certification programme for pastoral farmers.
The tool links to OverseerFM® farm nutrient management planning software used by thousands of New Zealand farmers. This ensures a smooth process for farmers to use their OverseerFM carbon footprint for certification and so avoids duplication of effort and entering farm data twice.
Farmers who sign on to the carbon certification programme make a carbon reduction plan using Toitū’s farm emanage software tool. The reduction plan is informed by OverseerFM GHG analysis and the carbon stock tool for sequestration potential. Guidance on how to make reductions, with links to external information sources, is built into the tool.
The programme is founded on partnerships with software partner Overseer Limited, and audit and assurance partner AsureQuality, and support from Beef and Lamb New Zealand.
“Toitū carbonzero and Toitū carbonreduce certification for the primary sector will enable farmers to quantify and verify their performance regarding carbon emissions. New Zealand farmers outperform others around the world but until they verify this, they can’t make those claims,” says Toitū Envirocare General Manager Strategy and Partnerships Steve Dixon. “With AsureQuality, this new programme provides that verification and advises farmers on how they can continue to reduce carbon emissions.”
Mr Dixon said many in the agriculture sector do not believe Government regulation is the most efficient way to cut emissions and the He Waka Eke Noa accord gives the sector the opportunity to find its own solutions first. He Waka Eke Noa has set a target of 25 per cent of farms having a plan to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions by 2022 and all farms having a plan by 2025.
He said Toitū carbonzero certification will enable farmers to “future-proof” their farms by:
The certification programme uses Toitū farm emanage emissions-tracking software to meet the unique requirements of farms. The tool allows for using greenhouse gas and carbon stock analyses from OverseerFM to complete an emissions inventory and inform reduction plans.
Mr Dixon said integration of Toitū Envirocare’s programme with OverseerFM was a huge advantage as it is already used by thousands of pastoral farmers.
Overseer Limited Chief Executive Caroline Read said supporting Toitu’s carbonzero certification programme for pastoral farmers was an easy choice. “We are constantly looking at ways Overseer can support farmers seeking value add opportunities from understanding and improving their farm sustainability. Marrying a system that can provide detailed analysis of emissions sources and reduction scenarios with an internationally recognised carbonzero certification programme provides New Zealand farmers with more opportunities to demonstrate their value on the world stage.”
AsureQuality CEO John McKay said, “We are excited to be partnering Toitū Envirocare with this new programme. Environmental sustainability demands are rapidly emerging across farming sectors, so it is critical we’re actively supporting in this space. The programme is a natural and very important extension of the assurance work we already deliver with producers and processors right across New Zealand. There are some good synergy opportunities, so our teams will be out talking to customers about how it works and the benefits of the farm carbon certification programme from today.”
Mr Dixon said the set up for the carbon certification programme was straightforward. Farmers can:
“We have walked farmers through the system from end-to-end in about 40 minutes, including loading OverseerFM GHG emissions analyses. Most efficient farmers will have easy access to the information they need to meet certification.”
North Canterbury farmer Charles Douglas-Clifford, of the Stonyhurst Partnership, is one of a handful of farmers who have piloted the system. He says it will be crucial for future farm management as carbon emissions management and certification becomes a standard requirement. “It will become part and parcel of what we do. It will be an expectation from the market and consumers.”
Mr Douglas-Clifford says using Toitū’s online platform has helped him understand his carbon footprint and use it as a tool for decision making.
“This is an important tool to justify producing and marketing a premier product. This is where we need to be pitching – branching away from commodities and pitching our meat, wool, and grain to the top echelon – top end products that get a top price.”
“Carbon emission reduction on farms is a new science,” says Mr Dixon. “It is different for every farm, every soil type and every climate.”
The cost of the carbon certification programme is $1,500 per year for membership plus $2,095 for the first year’s audit and certification. The cost of audit and certification drops in the second and third year as they will be conducted remotely. Toitū is also offering an introductory price of $1,000 for membership.
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