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Why Farmers Object To Govt's Access Reforms

23 June 2005

Why Farmers Object To The Government's Access Reforms

The government wants to pass a law allowing the public to go on private land without first seeking permission. Farmers are opposed to this. It is a theft of their property rights and an attack on the security of their home and business.

Farmers are opposed to the access legislation because of the:

Impact on farming operations. Farmers must have the final say on who can access their properties, when and under what conditions. This can only be done on an individual, case-by-case basis. The suitability of access arrangements depends on the exact nature of farming activities, land use, climatic conditions and localised hazards.

Personal safety and security of family and staff. Rural crime and violence is rising. The personal safety of family and possessions is a growing concern. Theft of farm machinery, rustling of stock and illegal operations such as marijuana growing, poaching of game, fish and seafood are increasing at an alarming rate.

Security and privacy of home and business. No other business would be expected to provide public access to the factory floor without strict controls. No other business would be forced to expose themselves or their production unit to diseases and pests.

Uncertain liability – for damage caused by visitors to such items as network infrastructure; for road accidents and crop losses resulting from escaped livestock when gates are left open by visitors; for damage caused by fire; for inadvertent injury to visitors resulting from the visitors’ own ignorance and inexperience.

Cost. Public access creates costs for farmers – time dealing with requests, marking access ways, fencing off where necessary, rubbish disposal, providing assistance where people get into difficulties, repairing damage caused to huts, sheds, water tanks, drinking troughs, pumps, drains, fences, gates, pasture, crops, conservation and other environmentally sensitive areas and paying for stock losses.

Flow on and other cumulative effects – greater walking access across private property frequently leads to increasing demand for biking and vehicle access, to cater for an increasingly less active and less fit society. Foot access inevitably brings guns and dogs, both of which present unacceptable risks to landowners.

Biosecurity is paramount to farming. With ever-increasing numbers of overseas visitors the risk of a live organism arriving in or on a person escalates. Access to private land must be controlled.

Attempts to reach a compromise with the government that meets the needs of both landowners and the public have failed. And in response many farmers throughout New Zealand have closed their gates to public access for one week, June 16-23. Closed gates will be marked with an orange ribbon in a show of solidarity.

Join this action by closing your gate to public access for one week, June 16-23, and tie an orange ribbon around that gate in a symbolic show of solidarity.

For updates on the campaign see www.fedfarm.org.nz. To join Federated Farmers, ring 0800 FARMING

ENDS

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