Prime minister Chris Hipkins said a solution is "very close" to the embattled primary sector-led emissions pricing partnership.

He has also said he doesn’t support a blanket tax on fertiliser – something his ministers appeared to be working on.

He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) – Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, an alliance between the government, the primary sector and Māori – was formed in 2019 to develop recommendations on an alternative pricing system for agricultural emissions. 

If an alternative isn't reached, agriculture emissions will be automatically included in the emissions trading scheme in 2025.

With that deadline looming and ministers unable to reach an agreement, the partnerships had been on shaky ground in recent weeks.

It came to a head after it was revealed agriculture minister Damien O’Connor had been considering a potential fertiliser tax as an alternative to HWEN proposals.

Sources close to the process told BusinessDesk the HWEN process stalled following the resignation of Jacinda Ardern as prime minister.  

Ardern championed the initiative at the cabinet table, but Hipkins, her replacement, was said to have been far less engaged on its completion.

It’s coming

However, this morning at the opening of the annual Fieldays at Mystery Creek near Hamilton, Hipkins said partnering with the sector on its preferred approached was always something that made sense to him.

Despite there still being “some details to work through”, he thought they were “very close to landing something that will work”.

“While there will be some disagreements along the way, it is important that we continue to move forward.”

Working on a farm-by-farm basis to meet and reduce emissions as well as creating incentives that would reward farmers to do so required an “actual plan”.

“I believe He Waka Eke Nao can be that actual plan.”

Hipkins also used his speech to again rule out the much-speculated fertiliser tax. 

HWEN, Hipkins said, was about “recognising and responding to a reality we can’t change” and it was about growing the country’s international brand for export value.

“That’s why I don’t support a broad-based tax that doesn’t provide the nuances that are inherent in He Waka Eke Noa.”

Hipkins said the government wanted to “work hard” with the sector to make the partnership work.

Earlier this week, National said if elected, it would set up a board to put in place a pricing system. This would come into force by 2030, five years after the current statutory deadline.

The Act Party is expected to announce an agriculture policy at Fieldays tomorrow.