Who's paying the price?

Currently nothing is being done to prevent the rapid expansion and industrialisation of the dairy industry. Under the newly legislated Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) the agricultural sector is exempt from taking real action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions until 2015.

Taupo, central North Island, New Zealand. Landcorp, a New Zealand Government owned company, currently converting Tahorakuri Forest into large-scale intensive dairy farms. Landcorp has embarked on a project to convert more than 25,000 hectares of pine plantations northeast of Taupo.

Even when it is brought into the ETS, the sector will be subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of 90 per cent of its emissions (due to the amount of free permit allocations given to it by the government).
Under the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand must buy credits to cover any increase in emissions over 1990 emission levels. A recent Sustainability Council report (pdf) estimated the likely cost to the New Zealand taxpayer of covering agriculture's increased emissions would be around $1.3 billion. Under the current plans this will result in a direct subsidy to the sector.

Without a price on agricultural emissions, there's no incentive to reduce them and invest in mitigation solutions.  

Greenpeace is calling for agriculture to be brought in under the ETS before 2013, and for a range of other measures to be put in place to encourage low-input, less intensive farming.