Environmentalists 'intimidated and harassed' by Southland farmers over winter grazing

It follows a high profile campaign against the practice of winter grazing.
It follows a high profile campaign against the practice of winter grazing. Photo credit: Supplied/Angus Robson.

Tensions are running high in Southland after an alleged stoush between farmers and environmentalists over the issue of winter grazing.

It's alleged that two photographers were harassed by farmers, then were followed back to a Mossburn property where they were later blockaded in by a group of around 15 farmers.

The incident follows the launch of a national campaign against the practice of winter grazing by environmentalist Angus Robson who released a series of photos of mudbound cows.

Robson said two photographers had been approached by a farmer, unhappy at what they were doing.

"They got rammed, they got followed and they got blockaded in the house," he said.

He said their van windows were also smashed.

The photos show mudbound cows in paddocks.
The photos show mudbound cows in paddocks. Photo credit: Supplied/Angus Robson.

Robson said police were called as they were worried about what might have happened.

"It could have got pretty ugly and nobody knew how it was going to play out."

He said the incident was disappointing as it took the focus away from the real issue around winter-grazing, which was bad planning regulations.

He was also worried that it could spark anti-farmer sentiment, as the campaign was not about going after individual farmers.

Angus Robson said the campaign wasn't about blaming individual farmers.
Angus Robson said the campaign wasn't about blaming individual farmers. Photo credit: Supplied/Angus Robson.

Former Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird told Stuff that about 10 or 15 farmers were "having a barbecue".

"Police have been here on a couple of occasions. We're not trying to intimidate them, but they haven't exited to go out and take more photos today," he told Stuff.

Baird said that the environmentalists had been "lurking around in the dark" taking photos of stock.

Some farmers, who were "a little bit in the thick of it" took exception to their stock being photographed, he said.

Police told Newshub that they had received several reports of two people in a vehicle taking photographs of stock in paddocks in Mossburn over the weekend.

A rock was reportedly thrown at a vehicle window overnight Saturday, they said.

"It's not yet clear whether these incidents are linked."

Agriculture Minister, Damien O'Connor has set up a taskforce looking at the practice of winter grazing, saying the images of mudbound cows were unacceptable to him.

Newshub.

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