National MPs have joined hundreds of farmers who arrived at Parliament today to express how disillusioned they are with this Government’s anti-farming policies, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.
“Farmers used to say there are three things they needed to worry about; interest rates, commodity prices and the weather. It now appears the list has four things on it, with the Coalition Government’s policies belonging at the top.
“The Coalition Government’s disdain for farmers was made apparent when Minister of Forestry Shane Jones labelled those attending ‘rednecks’. While the Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor inferred that their points were ‘fiction’ and didn’t even stay to hear what they had to say.
“This is a remarkable show of disrespect to hundreds of farmers who travelled a long way to have their say, and Minister Jones should apologise.
“One of the major concerns voiced by those attending was the many hectares of pastoral farmland being converted to pine trees. Amazingly the Minister of Agriculture has no idea how much has been converted, and continues to tell farmers that they’re wrong and spreading ‘misinformation’.
“This is despite there being 12,000 hectares sold for forestry in the Wairarapa in the past 12 months alone.
“Farmers’ confidence is at all-time lows, and as well as grappling with the effect of land-use changes they’ve put up with a plethora of Government policies and proposals that have only added to uncertainty around the future of their businesses.
“There has been the Tax Working Group report and the subsequent uncertainty of a Capital Gains Tax campaign, a proposed water tax, a proposal for agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme and now the Freshwater proposals and cynical consultation process surrounding them.
“Farmers are rightfully sick of this Government and good on them for speaking up today. It’s just a shame the Government continues refusing to listen.”