Winter grazing: 'Anti-farmer' claims put to environmentalist

The environmentalist at the centre of a campaign against winter grazing has refuted suggestions that he is anti-farming.

Winter crop grazing is used in some parts of the country to provide enough feed for stock at a time when there's not enough pasture.

But environmentalists and animal welfare advocates are unhappy with the practice, and recently released photos of mudbound cows in Southland.

Campaigner Angus Robson spoke on Magic Talk's Rural Exchange about the campaign.

Co-host Hamish McKay suggested that it was only a small percentage of farmers responsible for bad winter grazing practices.

Angus Robson told Rural Exchange that bad winter practice was common in Southland.
Angus Robson told Rural Exchange that bad winter practice was common in Southland. Photo credit: Supplied

"You paint farmers in a very bad light," he said.

"I don't reckon that even 5 percent of farmers are acting in the way we see from those pictures," said McKay.

However Robson said that wasn't the case.

"Our guys travelled for thousands of kilometres and looked at hundreds of farms and the average was those pictures," he said.

"You could drive down virtually any road in Southland at this time of the year and you would see what's in those photos, it's nothing out of the ordinary."

He said a stoush this week between local farmers and environmentalists was taking the focus away from the campaign.

Robson said he wasn't anti-farming, and the real issue was about over-farming in Southland.

"There's been a goldrush there in dairy, and a lot of that ground isn't dairy ground. We do need to back up, we are wrecking the environment and we are harming the animals."

The Agriculture Minister, Damien O'Connor has set up a taskforce to look at the practice of winter grazing, in response to the photos.

"Images of cows up to their knees in mud, unable to lie down and rest and calving in these conditions is unacceptable to me and I've heard loud and clear from the public that it's unacceptable to them too," he said.


Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay and Richard Loe, 6-8am Saturday and Sunday on Magic Talk.