“The Government must listen to feedback from farmers on its freshwater rules,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

Stuff reports that the Southland Advisory Group has recommended pugging rules and resowing dates be scrapped from the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

“ACT has said from the outset that the rules are impractical and will seriously impact on production.

Last week, an Economic Impact Report on Land and Water Management in the Ashburton District suggested the rules would reduce farm profitability by 83 percent a year.

“As a result, farmers won’t be able to invest in their operations, with farm expenditure estimated to decline by $139.9 million a year across the district, perversely making them less effective managers of their land and stock.

“The rules require all paddocks to be resown by 1 October or 1 November in Otago and Southland.

“That’s completely unrealistic given seasonal variations in snowfall and flooding. It would be difficult to implement in most years.

“Seasonal ground temperatures need to be above 10 degrees for crop germination in these regions. The ground temperature is often significantly lower and crops will fail.

“Rather than putting restrictive sowing dates on these crops, there needs to be flexibility in accommodating seasonal variations in rainfall and ground temperature.

“Farmers are the greatest environmentalists and have more incentive than anyone to want better water quality, but the policies for achieving it must be practical.

“Local issues must have local solutions, not a one-size-fits-all approach made by Wellington bureaucrats that clearly don’t understand farming.

“The Government needs to listen to feedback from rural New Zealand on what are clearly unworkable freshwater rules.”