Farmers criticise new winter grazing laws, intended to clean NZ waterways, as ‘unworkable’

New freshwater laws set to come into force next week are being met with strong opposition from farmers, including some who say they will boycott the rules.

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Farmers are strongly opposing the laws saying they’re ‘unfarmable’. Source: 1 NEWS

The new laws are aimed at lowering the amount of sediment runoff from farms into rivers and streams.

From next week, winter grazing can’t take place on land with more than a 10 degree angle. It also states pugging - the churning up and pushing down of soil by livestock - can’t be deeper than 20cm, and that farms should be re-sown by November 1.

If a farmer can't comply, they'll need to apply for written consent.

Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young said the laws are “overly prescriptive”.

“They’re highly aspirational and totally unworkable.”

Mr Young is now calling on farmers to refrain from applying for consents. He said the Government’s tweaking of the rules didn’t cut it.

West Otago farmer Bruce Eade said he didn’t condone improper winter grazing practices. He does most of his winter grazing indoors. It’s a clean way of farming, but very costly to implement.

“In every industry, there’s that bottom two per cent and that’s what gets focused on,” he said.

Mr Eade is calling on the Government to either scrap or change the new rules.

“I haven’t heard of one farmer who agrees with any of the changes.”

But Environment Minister David Parker refuted the criticisms.

“These rules are fair in my view, and they should be complied with,” he said.

He said most farmers were already farming in an environmentally responsible way, and refuting the rule changes was like saying it wasn’t possible to farm in that way.

Meanwhile, National is promising to get rid of the freshwater standards if it was to end up in Government after the election.

National pledges freshwater legislation 'gone by lunchtime' if elected

National’s agriculture spokesperson David Bennett accused the Government of not liking farmers.