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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand farmers are being asked to cough up NZ$8.4 million (2.9 million pounds) a year to help reduce greenhouse effects caused by flatulence of their millions of sheep and cattle -- and they say the plan stinks.
Last year New Zealand signed up to the Kyoto Protocol (news - web sites) on global warming (news - web sites) and agreed to reduce production of greenhouse gases which are suspected of being a major cause of climate change.
Now the government plans to introduce a tax to help pay for research into livestock emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, which account for more than half of the country's greenhouse gases.
But farmers argue that reducing greenhouse gas emissions benefits everyone so the costs should be spread across all taxpayers.
"This decision is yet another example of the government's desire to act in the wider public interest but expecting rural New Zealand to pay for its largesse," Federated Farmers President Tom Lambie said.
Most of the livestock emissions come from the methane-rich burps of cows and sheep.
On current livestock numbers of around 46 million sheep and nine million cows, the levy will cost farmers around nine cents a sheep a year, and around 72 cents per cow.
Deer and goats will also be taxed, but pigs and poultry -- paltry contributors to greenhouse emissions by comparison -- are exempted.
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