Claims Southland farmers 'at breaking point' over anti-winter grazing campaign

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.

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.

Hamish Walker said many farmers were under huge stress because of the campaign.
Hamish Walker said many farmers were under huge stress because of the campaign. Photo credit: Newshub

"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.

The images of mudbound cows prompted the Minister of Agriculture to set up a taskforce to look at the practice.
The images of mudbound cows prompted the Minister of Agriculture to set up a taskforce to look at the practice. Photo credit: Supplied

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.

Where to find help and support: 

 

  • Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
  • Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
  • What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat
  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz