Farmers continue protest momentum with group, petition

Tractor rally organisers Bryce McKenzie, of Pomahaka, (left) and Laurie Paterson, of Greenvale,...
Tractor rally organisers Bryce McKenzie, of Pomahaka, (left) and Laurie Paterson, of Greenvale, at the Gore A&P showgrounds where more than 100 people driving tractors converged last month to protest against freshwater reforms. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
A group of farmers is planning its next move — including a petition to Parliament and a farmer meeting in Gore — in a bid to seek changes to the national policy statement (NPS) for freshwater management.

Groundswell NZ stemmed from last month’s tractor trek in Gore, which was organised by farmers Laurie Paterson, of Greenvale, and Bryce McKenzie, of Pomahaka.

Yesterday, Mr Paterson said the group was looking at what it could do to "make our voice heard" and it was buoyed by the support already received.

There had been an overwhelming response to the tractor trek and he and Mr McKenzie felt they could not leave it there.

"We’re just a group of concerned farmers really. We see that as a bit of an advantage, we’re not tied to any group, we’re not political in any way."

The group believed there were "far superior solutions" to those in the new NPS; it was striving for sensible, sustainable and practical ones.

"Groundswell NZ is a platform for any New Zealander to register with and support, with the aim of bringing the necessary attention to the fact that these laws have been passed with little or no consultation with industry bodies.

"Science has not been looked at or even considered and it seems the policy writers have a complete lack of understanding of agricultural farming in New Zealand and, to that effect, have behaved immorally and unprofessionally," it said.

The laws would not only affect the immediate rural communities they were aimed at but also urban New Zealand. As the pressure was felt, there would be job losses, higher food costs and limited capital spending, it said.

The group believed the freshwater regulations must be rebuilt from the ground up, rather than tweaked, working with industry bodies to achieve workable rules.

Mr Paterson said a petition to Parliament was under way, calling for "common sense" changes.

A meeting was planned at the Southern Field Days site at Waimumu, near Gore, on February 12.

Following that, further options would be looked at, including not applying for any consents, and potentially withholding regional council rates until the group’s objective was reached.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has previously said the intent of the regulations was clear: to clean up the country’s waterways. Where the regulations were impractical or unclear, adjustments would continue to be made.

Comments

It is some of the farmers who have behaved immorally and unprofessionally. Generation after generation have cleared the land of it's native flora and fauna, drained the wetlands and covered the land with domestic grazing mammals with little respect for nature. Ag chemicals, and artificial fertilisers poured over the land to keep nature at bay and to compensate for nutrients striped from the soil. Our biodiversity and water quality has suffered as a consequence but instead of asking for help to fix these wrongs you just bitch, whine and threaten the public with higher food costs, job losses and breaking laws. Shame on you! You are an embarrassment to all the good farmers out there making a real difference to improve the environment.

What a bunch of entitled whingers.
They and their ancestors destroyed the catchment and created the problem that the new regulations aim to fix. They are just too tight to put their hands in their pockets and pay for the fix of the destruction they have caused over 3 generations of mismanagement.
Farmers have always had to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept any change that fixes their mess. They never do these things out of conscience or concern about the land or the community. These new water management regs are the same.
Common sense changes. I know what that means, it means it should be changed so that the taxpayer pays for it.
Not any more. You created the problem

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