14 Jul 2021

Farmers to protest at 'ill thought out' government policies

3:03 pm on 14 July 2021

A farmer group is planning a protest at what it describes as unworkable government regulations and interference in farmers' lives.

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Farmers were unhappy about more than the "ute tax", the Groundswell NZ co-founder said. Photo: 123rf

Groundswell NZ is organising 'A Howl of a Protest' in 47 towns and cities on Friday.

Co-founder Laurie Paterson said the "ute tax" was the issue people pointed the finger at, but farmers were also unhappy with the bureaucratic approach to the national policy statement for fresh water management.

Paterson said he had been involved in a catchment group which helped clean up the the Pomahaka River in Otago. "Eight years ago that was the worst river in Otago for quality and now, because the local people have bought into it, set up their own catchment group, all the things are in the green.

"Instead of setting up great bureaucracies to run these things we need to just let local people work with the regional councils to get the right results.

"They only seem to have four sports in New Zealand at the moment, that's rugby, cricket, netball and bashing farmers, and farmers and rural people have really just had enough of this.

"We're the ones doing the heavy lifting in the economy, in fact we're just about all the economy at the moment, and we just really want common sense solutions to things."

He said a lot of "ill thought out" policies were coming out.

People were annoyed that better quality decisions were not being made, and government, farming advocates and councils need to do some "serious talking" with grassroots people.

Paterson said farmers were interested in what they can do to mitigate climate change but robust information was needed to base it on. "I think there's quite a few agendas out there, that's the way it seems to farmers anyway."

National Party leader Judith Collins told Morning Report said a lot of National MPs would attend and there was talk that she "may be driving a tractor."