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Farmers bring tractors to Southland streets to protest new rules around freshwater and winter grazing

More than 100 farmers and their tractors have taken to the streets of Southland this afternoon, protesting new rules around freshwater and winter grazing.

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Farmers from Waikoikoi, Pukerau and Tapanui, among other places, say the new regulations are unworkable. Source: 1 NEWS

The protest was organised by Southland farmers Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson.

“Farmers are getting slammed for all sorts of reasons,” farmer Pip Wilson says.

Farmers came from areas like Waikoikoi, Pukerau and Tapanui, meeting in Gore’s main street around lunchtime.

“Just annoys me. We do our bit,” contractor Michael Dynes says.

The rules came in to play last month and include restrictions to the gradient of paddocks and set dates for re-seeding - all in an aim to reduce run-off to nearby streams and rivers.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she understands some issues are still being raised in different regions, but still wants farmers to play their part.

Agricultural Minister Damian O’Connor said some rules could still be tweaked, despite it already being signed off in Parliament.

“We’re going to discuss whatever options we have open to us because if farmers don’t obey these laws, they could be prosecuted,” Laurie Paterson says.

National leader Judith Collins said today she backs the farmers' protest, along with a region by region approach to freshwater rules.