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The mental health of North Canterbury farmers needs to be supported as they navigate Government’s complex proposals to meet new freshwater and climate-change targets, Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey told a packed town hall in Oxford this week.

Doocey brought National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller to Waimakariri on Tuesday night to give Waimakariri residents an opportunity to hear more about the new proposals. 

At the meeting, Muller said New Zealand needs sustainable rural communities and better environmental outcomes — and with the right support, our rural sector could produce both.

Doocey said many of those who spoke out at the meeting said they were in support of reducing emissions from sheep and cattle, and improving Canterbury’s rivers, but six weeks to submit to Government’s complex freshwater policy, at a time when they were busy with lambing and calving, was too short.

“Our rural sector needs to be supported to meet new compliance targets, not penalised with punitive taxes,” Doocey said.

“Todd spoke to the meeting on how New Zealand’s history of farming has been one long trajectory of adaptation. We know that the way our farmers farm today is not the same as how the previous generation farmed. If we give our farmers the right support and tools, they will respond to the environment pressures we, as an economy, face today,” Doocey said.

Muller told the meeting that accurate, on-farm data was essential in managing emissions and that National supported a comprehensive roll-out of farm plans across the sector.

With 60 percent of New Zealand’s exports coming from agriculture, simply removing dairy and replacing it with trees was not a solution, the audience heard.

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