Groundswell continues fight for fairness

Hundreds of tractors decended on Ashburton to take part in Mid Canterbury's Howl of a Protest in July.

The fight against unworkable regulations continues, Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie says.

Farmers are being encouraged to submit on proposed changes to intensive winter grazing regulations.

The government have opened consultation on some of the rules that were implemented as part of its National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. Consultation runs until October 7.

Mr McKenzie, of West Otago, said although spring was a busy time for farmers they should make a submission.

‘‘Farmers need to be submitting on this — without a doubt,’’ he said.

However, if government had taken notice of the 17,000 submissions made during its initial consultation it would have realised some of the proposed rules, such as set sowing dates were not practical.

‘‘Everyone knows you can only sow your paddocks when they are ready — you can’t do it if it’s raining — it’s just crazy.’’

The group’s ‘‘Howl of a Protest’’(pictured in downtown Ashburton above) attracted tens of thousands of people across New Zealand in July.

Mr McKenzie said more protest action was being planned.

A range of issues still remained including the Government’s Three Waters Reform Programme, its ‘‘ute tax’’ and changes to its proposal for low slope maps.

‘‘The fight is still ongoing.’’

Environment minister David Parker said government had changed its proposed approach to low slope maps.

‘‘Under the proposal, farmers wanting to undertake intensive winter grazing on slopes over 10 degrees can do so with a certified freshwater farm plan.’’

Scientific evidence shows intensive winter grazing at 15 degrees results in twice as much soil being lost than if planted at 10 degrees.

Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor said under the proposed changes, farmers would be required to re-sow grazed paddocks as soon as conditions allowed, instead of by a set date.

Specific requirements around the depth of pugging would also be removed. The introduction of intensive winter grazing practice regulations was proposed to be deferred until November next year.