Former Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird said the farmers that gathered in Mossburn on Sunday were not there to intimidate environmentalists. (File photo)
Two environmentalists spent their Sunday holed up in a house in Northern Southland, while farmers held a barbecue at the end of their driveway, as a stoush over winter grazing in Southland escalated at the weekend.
One farmer told Stuff they set out to stop more photographs of stock being taken and the environmentalists were welcome to come out and talk them.
Police were at the Mossburn property on Sunday morning amid allegations of vehicles being rammed, intimidation and trespassing, but no charges have been laid.
Environmentalist Angus Robson, who launched a nationwide campaign against winter grazing last week, said two members of his campaign were in Southland on Saturday taking photos of “cows in mud up to their bellies” when they were approached by a farmer.
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Robson would not say which part of Southland the photographers were in, but he said the farmer allegedly rammed their vehicle and then followed the environmentalists back to a property at Mossburn, in Northern Southland.
During that time he alleges the farmer made calls to other farmers, who joined him.
He said police were called and after they left, the farmers sat at the end of the driveway of the property, “blockading the house.”
“They’re at the end of the driveway drinking stubbies now,” he said on Sunday morning.
Windows of the environmentalists’ van were smashed with a rock overnight, Robson said.
Robson said they had not trespassed and had not disturbed any stock while taking photos, and drones had not been used.
“What p***es us off about this is that it’s not the farmers we are attacking, it is the failure of the system.”
He says cows lying in mud is “a massive environmental and animal welfare issue.”
Former Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird called Stuff from outside the Mossburn property on Sunday afternoon and said at that time, about 10 or 15 farmers were “having a barbecue.”
“Police have been here on a couple of occasions. We’re not trying to intimidate them but they haven’t exited to go out and take more photos today.
“The intent is not to intimidate, if they want to come and talk, they can come and talk.”
Baird said that the environmentalists had been “lurking around in the dark” taking photos of stock.
Some farmers, who were “a little bit in the thick of it” took exception to their stock being photographed, he said.
“The importance of winter cropping to Southland can’t be underestimated. There is nothing wrong with putting cows on crop on a nice sunny day like this. The photos they have taken were after rainfall, where there has been some mud and some water lying and there is the potential for paddocks to look much worse than they are.
“It’s people’s livelihoods they’re attacking, it’s Southland’s economy they’re attacking.”
He was unsure how long the barbecue would continue.
Last week Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor’s announced he was establishing a taskforce of vets, industry leaders and officials to identify the issues around winter grazing and “bring him some solutions”.