'The Government can't see the wood for the trees' - Forestry advocates say Govt ignored advice farmers should help pay for climate change

A group of forestry experts appointed by the Government last year to look at making farmers pay their fair share for climate change feels its advice is being ignored.

Recommendations went to MPI earlier this year but minister says it never reached her. Source: 1 NEWS

The forestry industry wants farmers to pay their fair share and Peter Weir of the Forest Owners Association told 1 NEWS farming "isn't facing the cost of its increase in greenhouse gas emissions".

Mr Weir is one of the group of experts asked by the Government to advise it on climate change and forestry.

"The Government currently requires the taxpayer to subsidise the cost of greenhouse gas emissions from farming. The price of land is going through the roof," he said.

"It boils down to the fact there won't be any trees planted in New Zealand until the playing field between forestry and farming is levelled."

That advice went to the Ministry for Primary Industries earlier this year, but it has never been made public. 

When it was put to Mr Weir that he's been gagged, he said said: "Your words. We're bound by a confidentiality agreement."

Agriculture is exempt from charges under the Emissions Trading Scheme, and for now National doesn't want that to change.

Forestry Minister Louise Upston says the experts' advice never reached her.

The Government can't see the wood for the trees when it comes to climate change - Greens leader James Shaw

In a statement, MPI said: "All members, including officials from a number of agencies, put ideas to the group for debate and discussion. It has always been intended that the results of these discussions would inform policy advice scheduled to be presented to the Government in 2018. "

On the campaign trail today, National leader Bill english was at a Sawmill and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern visited a paper mill.

Labour plans to phase in agriculture to the ETS in its first term.

"It's an issue of fairness but it's also an issue of innovation. The moment that we actually start phasing these things very gently, we start to see the kind of innovation, research and science we need to actually lower our emissions overall as well," Ms Ardern said.

Labour's stance is backed by the Greens.

"The Government can't see the wood for the trees when it comes to climate change," said Greens leader James Shaw. 

"And they've been playing one industry sector off against another. They've been playing winners and losers, and the losers are starting to get pissed off about it," he said.