Thousands turn out for farmers protest

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More than 1000 people rallied in downtown Ashburton as part of the nationwide Howl of A Protest.

Farmers, contractors, tradies and supporters lined up in their tractors, utes and trucks along West Street, and surrounding areas of the Ashburton Domain to rally against government regulations.

Many were directly affected by proposed legislation but others were there to show their support to the rural community.

Locals came out to show support for the protest.

The nationwide protest, instigated by Groundswell NZ, raised so much interest in Mid Canterbury it was running an hour behind as vehicles made their way there from a northern and southern point outside town.

Protesters gathered on the outskirts of Ashburton – at Ryal Bush Transport on Maronan Road, and Rural Transport on Northpark Road, at 11am.

Many used signs to show their feelings.

Attendence exceeded the expectations of Ashburton organisers Jodan Townshend and Joseph Gillies.

Speakers included Mid Canterbury farmers David Ward and Willy Leferink, as well as North Canterbury farmer Jamie McFadden who read a statement from the protest organisers. It was the same message nationwide.

A dog howl then followed.

Over 1000 people gathered in the domain to listen to speakers.

The protest encouraged everyone to bring their tractors, utes, and dogs to towns across New Zealand to protest a range of new and proposed regulations. More than 50 towns took up the mantle.

The regulations included freshwater and winter grazing, significant natural areas, indigenous biodiversity and the unpopular ‘‘ute tax’’- a new rebate scheme, which would place a fee on higher-emission vehicle.

Story Toni Williams, Photos Daniel Tobin