There are calls for the Government to put its new freshwater regulations on hold as the country braces for the worst of the COVID-19 fallout.
The new rules, announced last week, are aimed at clearing up the nation's lakes and rivers and introduce a raft of measures to stop farm run-off entering waterways.
A funding package of $700 million was earmarked to help the primary sector and other groups implement the changes.
But ACT leader David Seymour says now is not the time for new regulations.
"Farmers have been some of this country's heroes during Covid-19," Seymour said on Wednesday.
"The rural sector got us through the lockdown. The Government is now repaying them with more stringent freshwater regulations that will cost jobs and add pressure to our rural communities."
Seymour said the new rules would create uncertainty for the sector, and now was the "worst possible time" to introduce the changes.
"The Ministry for the Environment's own analysis says that job losses and mental health pressures will result from new freshwater regulations. New costs on farmers will be passed through to consumers, and ratepayers will be required to pick up the new costs faced by councils."
He said the regulations should be put on pause until the country is out of recession.
"The rural sector has been one of the whipping boys of this Government, with the passage of the Zero Carbon Act and now freshwater regulations."
The changes came after a consultation period last year that received more than 17,500 submissions.
While the rural sector in general reacted positively to the new regulations - many of which don't need to be implemented until 2023 - there was some disagreement over a proposal to implement a national bottom line for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in waterways.
Environmentalists say such a bottomline is crucial for protecting the health of the ecosystem, but farmers say it's not practical and disagree with the standard that has been proposed.
A decision on the DIN bottomline was delayed for 12 months, in order to allow for enough time to complete a thorough review of its economic and environmental impacts.