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Primary Industries

How is agriculture affected by t​he ETS?​

Since 2011, companies carrying out certain agricultural activities have had an obligation to report their emissions to the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Emissions in this sector are methane and nitrous oxide. Methane emissions is produced by ruminant animals and animal waste, while nitrous oxide emissions comes from urine, dung and nitrogen fertiliser. Affected activities are:

  • Importing or manufacturing synthetic fertilisers containing nitrogen, equal to or above 1 tonne per year
  • Purchasing, other than for on-selling, synthetic fertiliser containing nitrogen for application to land
  • Slaughtering ruminant animals, pigs, horses, or poultry by a person who is the operator of a risk management programme registered under the Animal Products Act 1999 for the slaughter of animals
  • Dairy processing of milk or colostrum, equal to or above 500 tonnes of milk solids per year
  • Exporting more than 20 live cattle, sheep, or pigs from New Zealand in a year, in accordance with an animal welfare export certificate

Participants in the agricultural sector are not currently required to surrender New Zealand Units (NZUs) to account for their emissions. More information about the surrender of units for agricultural emissions is available from the Ministry for the Environment.


Participants in the agricultural sector are required to record information about the extent of their relevant activities and submit this as part of their annual emissions return. This figure is then multiplied by an emissions factor that estimates the emissions per tonne of waste to give a total emissions figure.

Even though the agricultural sector does not currently have a surrender requirement associated with their emissions, it is important that emissions data is accurately reported as the government uses this when making an annual assessment of New Zealand's total emissions.

Please see the main Emissions Reporting page for more information about how to complete an emissions return.


Some activities in the agricultural sector have been identified as eligible to receive an allocation as they are considered to be "Emissions Intensive and Trade Exposed." These are:

  • Production of whey powder
  • Production of lactose
  • Production of protein meal
  • Production of gelatine

​See the main Industrial Al​locations​ page for more information about allocations and details on how to apply.

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