For years, as a sheep farmer Bruce Wills spent hundreds of hours with a hand-piece cleaning up daggy sheep. Now he's spending hundreds of hours with a pair of secateurs pruning grape vines.
That is the question lobby groups, including Federated Farmers, are pondering following Labour’s landslide victory at the election.
Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says, in terms of overall policy, he believes there will be little difference to what occurred during the past three years. He points to the fact that two major pieces of legislation relating to healthy waterway and Zero Carbon are both creating challenges for farmers.
“I guess it’s going to come in terms of the healthy waterways as to how that is implemented and what further changes are made,” Hoggard told Rural News.
“Hopefully, we might see it modified to be a little bit more practical and a little less paint by numbers, from a national perspective, and allow for some regional flexibility catchment by catchment.”
Hoggard says David Parker, who is responsible for the healthy waterways bill, is not on the Christmas card list of many farmers. He says it’s hard to say if Parker were replaced as Minister for Environment whether the legislation would change much.
“But if he was removed from the portfolio it could certainly change farmers’ perceptions.”
Hoggard says having to deal with just one party will be easier for Feds. He says, in the past, it’s been noticeable that every small party had its own internal games and different angles on a subject and getting support was at times difficult and frustrating.
“Around climate change, for example, NZ First gave us a nod and wink that they would push forward an idea of ours. So, we took it up with Labour and Greens and they said yes – and so did National. But then NZ First said no because they wouldn’t have anything to do with National. It was very annoying.”
A much talked about issue is whether farmers, many of whom traditionally support National, actually voted Labour to keep the Greens out of any coalition. Hoggard says he has yet to meet a long time National voter who claims to have done this, but he’s sure there is some truth in the story.
“You can see the strategy behind that, given the Green’s plans for agriculture were a helluva lot more extreme than all the other parties had proposed.”