Policies aimed at reducing fossil-fuel use instead endanger our rural districts.

You don't need a PhD in climate science to see the impact that a number of families no longer being employed on farms has on the local school; that having many thousands less stock units in an area has on local businesses and jobs.

Iwas recently up at the recent National Fieldays at Mystery Creek and one of the key issues Federated Farmers members were coming to talk to the team about, was the wholesale sale of productive farmland into forestry.

This is a result of several policy settings, but predominately the expectations around the Emissions Trading Scheme and carbon trading.

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This was also the key subject in a number of well-attended farmer meetings, including one I spoke at in the Rangitikei.

For many, the Climate Change debate is a hard one to get their heads around.

There is all this gobbledygook language around warming and methane being this much more powerful, and we need to be on this temperature pathway, and a whole bunch of acronyms like GWP* and GWP100, GTP, IPCC, and ICCC. It's pretty much a language war designed to get people to shut off.

But what we can all see, people who have no choice, but to pay attention, is the effect that occurs when farm after farm is taken over for forestry, at this stage particularly in the East Coast, King Country and Wairarapa communities.

You don't need a PhD in climate science to see the impact that a number of families no longer being employed on farms has on the local school; that having many thousands less stock units in an area has on local businesses and jobs.

These are the real-world impacts and unintended consequences of policies that are supposed to be aimed at lower fossil fuel use, but instead are harming rural communities.
I have been told that we need trees so that we can make our farms warming neutral, and certainly having blocks of trees on farm will achieve that.

But what we are seeing here is effectively not about farms becoming warming neutral, what we are seeing is a whole range of non-farm activities such as holidays to Bali, the SUV to take the kids to school etc, becoming carbon neutral — and at the cost of rural communities.

For those who want to make your voice to be heard on this issue may I suggest you show some support for Federated Farmers Gisborne vice-president Kerry Worsnop, and the petition she has running on Change.Org.

• Andrew Hoggard is vice-president of Federated Farmers