Farmers to protest water reforms

Waikaka farmer Laurie Paterson feels insulted about the new freshwater policy reforms and is one...
Waikaka farmer Laurie Paterson feels insulted about the new freshwater policy reforms and is one of the organisers of a tractor drive to Gore tomorrow to draw attention to the reforms. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Farmers will drive their tractors and converge in Gore tomorrow to show their feelings about the recently adopted freshwater water reforms.

Those taking part will arrive at Gore’s trout statue at about 11.30am.

One of the organisers is Waikaka farmer Laurie Paterson.

Mr Paterson said farmers were not happy about the new reforms.

“What Thursday is about is a bit of a show that farmers feel insulted and fed up,” Mr Paterson said.

Many farmers made submissions when the proposed policy was announced in 2019 but it appears the farmers’ viewpoints were ignored, he said.

“They were just thrown in the bin and now we’ve got rules we can’t meet.”

One of the new reforms was Southland farmers should have crops sown by November 1 which was impossible given the present weather, he said.

“To put a date on when farmers have got to have all their paddocks sown is absolutely crazy.”

Since the discussion started about the importance of protecting the quality of New Zealand’s waterways many farmers had changed their practice which had cost money, he said.

“Having done a whole lot of stuff you just get a Draconian set of rules, that aren’t common sense, imposed from the top.

“It’s an insult to farmers to put something so stupid there.”

He believed the only way farmers could meet the new requirements was to reduce stock numbers on their farms.

However, this would lower farm incomes and affect the rural economy.

“Particularly the Gore town which is a rural servicing town ... there will be less jobs and less money for people.”

The reforms were particularly galling at a time when the nation was depending on the rural economy post-Covid, he said.

“Right in the middle of when they need agriculture to pay the bills suddenly [farmers] get the boot sunk into them.”

Sandy Eggleston

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