Waikato's drought declaration is putting further heat on farmers to show how they're going to reduce their emissions as the Government prepares to set the country's Emissions Trading Scheme regulations by mid-2020.
Agriculture is not included in the scheme but Federated Farmers is worried it could be added.
Agriculture's progress will be checked in 2022 and if commitments aren't being met, the Government could bring it into the scheme before 2025.
Federated Farmers has agreed to a collective set of goals to reduce emissions, signing up to the He Waka Eke Noa document, which outlines the primary sector's climate change commitment.
Its five-year action plan included all farmers knowing what their emissions were by 2020; an emissions reporting and benchmarking system completed by 2024 and reporting of emissions at farm level will be possible by 2025.
All farms will have an environmental plan to manage their greenhouse emissions and farmers will have a plan to deal with adverse weather events by 2025.
The collective also wants to set up on-farm emissions pricing by 2025, which can also incentivise uptake of opportunities that lower emissions.
Waikato Federated Farmers provincial president Andrew McGiven said farmers needed to show that agriculture is taking climate change seriously.
"We all agree that the climate is changing, definitely, but what you put that down to, is probably still a guess.
"We know the weather is becoming more volatile.
"We take a seasonal approach to our management plans on-farm but because the weather events are becoming more extreme, you need to have more reserves (animal feed) up your sleeve to cope."
McGiven said farmers realised if they couldn't show they had reduced their emissions by 2025, the agriculture industry could be forced to comply with a "blanket approach" by government.
"None of us really want that. So we are trying to work with other organisations such as Dairy NZ, for research purposes, to see what is the best outcome to reduce emissions at an agricultural level."
McGiven said farmers were worried about what system was to be used to measure emissions on-farm.
"There is a lot of concern because depending on what measurement is used, farmers could be liable for a huge amount or another measuring system could put them in credit.
"Do you measure every pasture, every tree?
"Some research suggests dairy farms are huge carbon sinks because of the way the top soil is turned over time and again.
"Grass reabsorbs Co2 eaten by animals, and animals put organic matter on the ground to build up the soil."