Farmer lobby group plans march on Parliament

A march to Parliament is being organised by a farming lobby group which claims the rural sector is not being listened to by politicians.

The event is being organised by the lobby group 50 Shades of Green, which was formed to highlight the impact of the Government's billion trees policy on rural communities.

The group is calling the Wellington event "a provincial get-together".

Chair Andy Scott said it wanted to get its message out to a larger audience.

"The blanket planting of good farmland has reached crisis proportions.  Add to that the water proposals, land-use changes and the consistent campaign against rural businesses, we have a problem," he said.

Several hundred farmers recently staged a tractor protest in Northland over proposed new Government policies.
Several hundred farmers recently staged a tractor protest in Northland over proposed new Government policies. Photo credit: Newshub

"We'll be telling our story to a city audience by coming to Wellington. The politicians aren't listening to us so hopefully the general voters will," said Scott.

He said there had been interest in the march from across the rural sector.

"It isn't just farmers coming to town but representatives of all of provincial NZ from farmers to bankers, stock agents to rural advocacy groups and suppliers through to real estate representatives."

The Forestry Minister has told Newshub previously that he was prepared to look at tweaking the Government's billion trees policy, should concerns about its impact on rural communities be proven.

Shane Jones said he was prepared to look at tweaking the Government's billion trees policy if it was causing major problems.
Shane Jones said he was prepared to look at tweaking the Government's billion trees policy if it was causing major problems. Photo credit: Getty

However Shane Jones said he was not convinced there was a problem.

"It's obviously a problem in their mind," he said.

"But I've gone away and found out what the facts are, and it's nowhere near as severe as how the media have talked it up," said Jones.

He said he was listening to the concerns and was prepared to act if necessary.

"So I've said If we need to tweak the settings, then we'll have a go at that."

At the recent launch of the Government's freshwater proposals, the Agriculture Minister, Damien O'Connor acknowledged the stress many farmers were feeling.

"What we have to do is work with the farmers, who are under pressure at the moment," he said.

"They feel bombarded by people in the cities who don't understand what they do and don't understand the value of their contribution to our economy and need to get up to speed with that," said O'Connor.

"But the farmers also need to understand that there are ways of conducting their farm management systems that have lower impacts on the environment."

The march is planned for Thursday November 14th, and will arrive at Parliament at 1pm.

Newshub.

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