Stress caused by a high-profile campaign against the practice of winter grazing, is pushing some Southland farmers to breaking point, according to the local MP.
Tensions have been running high following the release of photos of mudbound cows by environmentalist Angus Robson.
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The issue came to a head recently when police were called in to a stoush between a group of local farmers and two environmentalists.
Southland MP Hamish Walker said the campaign against winter grazing was pushing many farmers to the brink.
"Farmers are now suicidal, and it's just on top of everything else that's coming farmers' way," he said.
"They need to be given a break, the bullying needs to stop," said Walker.
He said he had heard from farmers who's farms had been photographed, who feel as if they had let the team down.
"Other farmers are turning on the farmers with the bad footage, and are not being told the whole story."
He said the situation was serious, and there needed to be a change in the way it was being handled.
"There's already enough depression and anxiety in the rural sector."
Jason Herrick's farm was at the centre of the latest stoush, and said the issue was taking a toll.
"There are farmers under mental stress because of this," he said.
Herrick said farmers were worried at the public perception of what was happening.
"We don't sit inside at night listening to the rain, we do go out and help our stock."
The environmentalist who launched the campaign, Angus Robson, labelled the claims as unfair.
"I feel as though the playing of the suicide card on us isn't fair," he told Rural Today.
"A lot of people are heavily stressed, and they should look to how they got there through their leadership, rather than the people pointing out the issues which have been there for a very long time," said Robson.
He said his group wasn't the first to speak out about winter grazing practices
"The fact that it has built up a bit of momentum to a lot more public awareness, it is just a thing that was known to be coming, and here we are."
A taskforce set up by the Agriculture Minister to look at winter grazing is to provide an initial report by the end of August and work on a plan of action by the end of September.
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