19 Oct 2020

Farmers want Labour to govern alone - Fed Farmers

1:41 pm on 19 October 2020

Farmers are anxiously waiting to see whether or not Labour will choose to govern alone or bring in the Green Party.

Canterbury dairy farmer

Canterbury dairy farmer Chris Ford. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

In one of the elections biggest surprises the strong National electorate of Rangitata swung with Labour candidate Jo Luxton winning the seat - becoming the first Labour MP to do so.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark said he has heard of farmers voting strategically.

"I think potentially plenty of farmers have voted Labour so they can govern alone rather than having a Labour-Greens government- there's been a lot of chat around about that but each to their own, the people have spoken."

Clark said farmers are worried about the future.

"The realities of the Covid hit have been sheltered from us by the wage subsidy and various business loans and other schemes which have delayed reality so we can only hope the government which has been elected to lead New Zealand for the next three years has the capability to led us out the other side - but there are grim times ahead," Clark said.

Temuka dairy farmer Andy Palmer said he was shocked by the result for his electorate, Rangitata but not the overall Labour win.

"The result of Labour have governing alone is far more preferable than governing with the Greens, I think that farmers can probably feel reasonably positive with the outcome."

Palmer said Labour has had some progressive policies in the past which have not all been bad for farmers - but it would be a different story if the Green Party was part of the government.

"Given the kind of policies that the Greens have been suggesting in this past campaign I would be extremely worried actually.

"The Greens have an agenda to decimate New Zealand farming if any of their policies are implemented," he said.

Dairy farmer Chris Ford said it's imperative Labour work alongside farmers and not against them.

"With all the policies they've bought in you think they'd give us a break, they've given us some pretty big hurdles to jump over in recent times with the water quality, nitrogen capping and winter grazing rules."

He pointed out the government's Fresh Water Reforms which come into affect next year are unrealistic and will play a mental toll on farmers.

"Oh you can't be worried I mean we have to work with the current government at the end of the day - but farmers are anxious about it.

"The big thing for me is mental health with farmers but I mean we all got out of bed today, the sun was shining, we still get to farm we just all need to work together for a better New Zealand," Ford said.

The fresh Water Reforms is something David Clark is hopeful the government might take another look at.

"The farming community across New Zealand has been concerned at the Fresh Water Reforms and in many instances the unworkability of the rules, and the very onerous timeframes which have been proposed and those views have been widely canvassed leading up to the election and those concerns remain so we will just need to wait and see how things pan out."

He said farmers feel as though they've not been heard by the Labour government.

"They're expecting outcomes better than nature - we have water coming into the top of the catchment in some areas with a dissolved organic nitrogen level of 3.2 milligrams per litre it will be very difficult to achieve a level of 2.4 milligrams per litre at the other side of the catchment."

He said the government should let farmers continue under the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan to prove better environment outcomes are possible without introducing a bunch of new rules.

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