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A petition has been launched this week seeking a rewrite of the controversial new freshwater rules.
It has been organised by Groundswell NZ, a new group which stemmed from a tractor trek in Gore in October expressing farmers’ feelings about the regulations.
It comprised a mix of dairy and sheep and beef farmers and some involved in farm servicing and contracting. All were passionate about the rules being "unworkable", Greenvale sheep and beef farmer Laurie Paterson, in whose name the petition is listed, said yesterday.
The petition requested the House of Representatives to urge the Government to review and amend the national policy statement for freshwater management to ensure it was based on science and best practice for each catchment and farm, and did not require farmers to sow on specific dates. Mandatory sowing dates would compromise health and safety and stress mental health, Mr Paterson said.
"In my view, one size cannot fit all; farmers with good environmental outcomes should not be penalised by an expensive consenting process and poorer performers should be assisted by council field staff to improve. I believe that farming should not have an expensive EU-style consenting process strangling expenditure on improvements."
Mr Paterson, who was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to the beef industry, said there were aspects of the regulations, including paddock slope, which had not been addressed in the petition, due to a letter limit, but it was hoped there would be a chance to raise those issues.
Once the petition was presented, it would go to a select committee and then to Parliament for discussion — "that’s really what we want".
"We want to get people talking about the fact these things are unworkable. Hopefully we’ll get the message across and some changes are made."
The petition closed on December 21 and Mr Paterson expected it would be presented to Parliament when it reopened next year.