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Farmers hopeful following election

Farmers hopeful following election
Christopher Luxon. Supplied

Farmers and lobbying groups are optimistic that the new government will ease regulations and back primary industry as the sector faces increasing red tape, low commodity prices and high on-farm inflation.

Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers president David Acland says the election result will allow lobbying groups to take a more positive attitude when engaging with the government.

"Over the last six years, we have been in defence mode, and now, if you look across the National party, Act and New Zealand First, we have a good cohort of rural representation."

Acland said the result will "lift the mood of rural New Zealand."

"Everyone has been a bit glum for a combination of reasons, especially in farming, so this will definitely help that."

With special votes yet to be counted, what the government cabinet will look like is still to be determined, but Acland feels Todd  McClay would be a good pick for Minister of Agriculture, and his comparative inexperience in the primary sector could be a positive.

Acland said McClay would be more likely to look at the sector as a whole rather than as individual components such as beef and lamb or dairy.

"He would have no bias to any farm type or system; he is a clean slate."

North Otago sheep and beef farmer and Methane Science Accord co-chairperson Jane Smith says the election result is a long overdue reflection of the silent majority regaining their voice.

"I hope that this brings with it accountability, fiscal responsibility, rational regulation and an end to choking the lifeblood out of small businesses, the provinces and the economy."

Smith said she hopes the incoming government will focus on rebuilding the health care system, education and restoring law, order and democracy and that New Zealand can once again be proud of our farmers.

"We need the ability to innovate and remain at the top of efficient global production and environmental enhancement without being stifled by irrational, unpalatable and ineffective rules."

Smith said she would continue to focus on questioning the new government, sector leaders, banks and processing companies on proposed methane taxing and the push for science-backed policy.

"The amount of farmers, ag-sector and taxpayer money we spend behind the scenes on research for methane emissions is a disgrace. I intend to bring science and accountability to that conversation instead of wasting money on a solution looking for a problem," Smith said.

Groundswell NZ, whose Drive for Change tractor tour last month promoted a change of government, is pleased with the result, Groundswell NZ environmental spokesperson Jamie McFadden said.

"It's great for farmers, businesses, the environment, the economy, our democracy, our country – everything."

McFadden said the difference the new government will mean for farmers can't be overstated.

"It's a huge relief knowing how bad recent regulations are and what more was in the pipeline."

North Canterbury farmer Angie Mason, who has had four children move overseas this year looking for a "better lifestyle", hopes the change in government will make New Zealand a more appealing option for young people.

"Hopefully, we will see young professionals will come back home shortly.

"Overall, the election results have given us a sense of relief and hope for the future," Mason said.

by Claire Inkson