New Zealand farmers feel like the nations punching bag and have had enough
Farmers in New Zealand drove their tractors to the city on Friday in a protest demanding the government loosen its environmental policies and climate change regulations which they say are hurting their businesses.
The nationwide demonstrations called “Howl Of A Protest” saw protesters flood busy motorways with tractors, pickup trucks known locally as “utes” and other farm vehicles, causing traffic jams in major cities.
Protesters have asked the government to loosen new regulations on managing waterways, and ease some COVID-19 border controls to allow more seasonal overseas workers into the country as the industry faces acute labour shortages.
They are also demanding the scrapping of what has been dubbed the “Ute tax” – a new government package subsidising cleaner electric cars while increasing fees on large petrol and diesel vehicles widely used by farmers and tradespeople.
“Farmers have got a lot of work to do and driving up the motorway in such mass is really representative of the gravity of what the farmers are feeling about these unworkable and unreasonable, and undemocratic regulations that they have just been forced upon us,
It’s just not workable, it’s really hurting farmers and it going to probably kill farming as we know it,” he said.
Some protesters held placards reading ‘No farmer, no food’ and ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’.
Agriculture, fishing and forestry directly contribute about 7% of New Zealand’s $140 billion economy and are a top export earner. But the sector has been criticised by environmentalists for degrading rivers and streams, many of which are now unsuitable for swimming, and for its carbon emissions.