Southland Groundswell protest reflects strength of farmer feeling

Southland farmers tell me that they feel like they’re under siege and the strength of today’s Groundswell protest reflects their genuine concern about the Government’s agricultural emissions proposals, Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

“The massive turn out at today’s Groundswell event, where farmers rallied to show their dismay at the action’s of this Government, shows the strength of feeling in the South.

“The Government’s emissions pricing scheme is another kick in the guts for farmers, which threatens the future of the rural sector in the South.

“I’m deeply concerned at the implications of the Government’s proposals, which will effectively price farming off the market for a large number of people within the sector and risk leaving our rural communities in despair.

“This province, and indeed this country, needs the rural sector. We’ve said it time and again how crucial farming is to our economy - that’s why I’m dismayed at the way the government constantly wants to nail the sector.

“The Government’s emissions proposal will see up to 20 per cent of the capacity of sheep and beef farming lost by 2030 – while forcing emissions to increase offshore, as production and jobs move overseas.

“It’s impractical and it’s unfair and farmers, rural communities and New Zealand cannot afford a blow like this.

“National supports agriculture paying its way, but believes the Government’s proposed costs are unacceptable especially when, with more care, there will be a better way to reduce emissions without so much damage.”