“The Government must immediately provide clarity to farmers about the enforcement of its new freshwater rules,” says ACT’s Primary Industries Spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“The new 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.

“Recent snow storms and flooding mean farmers are struggling to meet the deadline.

“Seasonal ground temperatures need to be above 10 degrees for crop germination in these regions. The ground temperature is often significantly lower at this time of year 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.

“Environment Southland has been unable to provide clarity on how the new rules will be applied leaving farmers at a loss. This is simply not good enough and the Government must step in.

“Damien O’Connor and David Parker need to tell farmers how the current proposals can be implemented taking variations into account.

“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 from Wellington.”