By Adam Burns, Local Democracy Reporter.
Federated Farmers say a positive decline in methane emissions painted a better picture around dairy farming's carbon footprint.
Stats NZ revealed figures showing dairy cattle farming emissions rose 3.18 per cent during its most recent reporting period of 2018-2019.
It was the highest figure on record, dating back to at least 2007.
But Federated Farmers' Mid Canterbury president David Clark said there was a disparity in the figures, highlighting Ministry for Environment's numbers which showed a 0.4 per cent decrease.
"Stats NZ have changed what they include as dairy farming statistics but it's also not capturing changes in land use with emissions out of sheep and beef going down," he said.
"It's just the different ways of looking at emissions out of dairy farming."
Nationwide methane emissions from all sources have fallen 4.7 per cent since 2006 which Clark said was significant.
"That's something the rest of society hasn't been able to achieve," he said.
"My message is stop beating up farmers up and work out what you're going to replace fossil fuels in every facet of modern human life."
Clark added that innovation and efficiency within the farming sector was prominent.
"Farmers in general are incredibly innovative and early adopters of technology," he said.
"We've seen almost a halving of fuel burn per kilogram of product produced on this farm in the 27 years that I've been in Mid Canterbury."
"New Zealand farmers are among, if not, the most efficient producers of food from a carbon point of view and the same goes for dairy farmers."