To the Hon. Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture,
Tēnā koe Minister,
From the farmers turning drought prone fields in North Canterbury to hemp, to those embracing the promise of plant-based milks, to dairy farmers in Northland turning to regenerative methods, we have a vision of the future with a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector.
Yet, we have far to go. We must act quickly to help our agriculture sector transition from one of the worst polluters of our climate and natural environment into one of its biggest solutions.
For this reason, I ask you to take action right now to start phasing out the use of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) and Palm Kernel Meal on farms in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The supply of PKE as animal feed on farms is an enabler of the unsustainable intensification of dairy operations. This drives up climate pollution right at the time it should be decreasing.
The use of PKE also makes farmers dependent on imported feeds, and gets them hooked on high-cost, high-emission processes. It is a far cry from the grass-fed, sustainable products people here and overseas expect from New Zealand farmers.
I am also concerned that the manufacture of PKE products contributes to illegal and unsustainable rainforest destruction overseas.
Recent analysis revealed[i] that a supplier of PKE into New Zealand, Wilmar International, has over 50,000 hectares of oil palm plantations illegally established inside Indonesia’s protected areas.
I do not want Aotearoa New Zealand’s dairy sector associated with the destruction of tropical forests. These forests are home to unique and threatened species like the orangutan.
The Green Party has always been clear that by taking the right decisions now we can build a thriving and sustainable farming sector that is good for farmers, good for communities, and good for the planet.
I was pleased to see Aotearoa New Zealand join with more than 140 other countries at COP26 in Glasgow and commit to protect and restore forests. Stopping the use of PKE is a step you can take right now to make that commitment meaningful.
Next year the Government will publish an Emissions Reduction Plan setting the direction for climate action in Aotearoa for the next 15 years. Phasing out PKE will send a clear signal that you intend for New Zealand farming to take a leading role in building a safer future for our children and grandchildren.
Please take this action for the good of our climate, wildlife, and farming communities everywhere.
[i] Source: Greenpeace Indonesia, October, 2021: “Deceased Estate: Illegal palm oil wiping out Indonesia’s national forest”.