NZ Election 2020: Jacinda Ardern says urban-rural divide not real, pushes back against suggestion she doesn't like farmers

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

Jacinda Ardern has pushed back against suggestions she doesn't like farmers, saying she doesn't believe New Zealand has an urban-rural divide.

The Labour Party Leader was asked by Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB on Monday why farmers might think she doesn't like or understand them.

"Unfortunately I know that the opposition have tried to make a play of that but I have always, since 2017 when this first came up, I have always pushed back on that," Ardern said.

"I think unfortunately around election time we get this suggestion over an urban-rural divide - I don't think it's real."

Ardern also defended the Government's stance on winter grazing, a controversial topic among farmers.

In August Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor made a number of adjustments to newly introduced freshwater regulations after farmers across the country complained winter grazing rules were impractical and unworkable.

Those changes came after farmers in Southland threatened to boycott some of the rules in a bid to send a message to the Government they were not happy, a threat Environment Minister David Parker responded to by saying "no one is above the law".

When asked on Monday if the adjustments showed the Government had got it wrong in the first place, Ardern said "not at all".

"We worked together on implementation," she said. "We know what the outcome is - there are farmers who themselves recognise in some parts of the country from an animal welfare perspective and from an environmental perspective we did need to have some standards, because there are some farmers who are doing a fantastic job and others who are bringing the reputation down."

National have promised to repeal or review nine of the freshwater regulations introduced in August if they are elected to power in the upcoming election.

Meanwhile, Labour pledged to give at least $50 million to help farmers transition to environmentally friendly practices and cope with growing compliance costs if it is voted back into Government.