Farmer protest group Groundswell are expanding into Canterbury and the West Coast after hosting meetings there to discuss new rules introduced by the Government in the agriculture sector.

Groundswell spokesperson Bryce McKenzie said the group was now looking for regional co-ordinators in those areas to help share information and keep farmers informed as the group’s protest actions unfolded.

More than 400 people attended the meetings, to discuss new freshwater and indigenous biodiversity regulations and the implications they would have on farmers, McKenzie said.

“Following these meetings Groundswell will be implementing a range of actions to support the call for halting the regulations,’’ McKenzie said.

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At the latest meetings, farmer and environmentalist Jane Smith and Jamie McFadden of the Rural Advocacy Network based in Canterbury were the guest speakers.

Groundswell members Logan Evans, of Mandeville, Duncan Gardyne, of Waikaka, Bryce McKenzie of Pomahaka and Laurie Paterson of Waikaka. (file photo)

Rachael Kelly/Stuff

Groundswell members Logan Evans, of Mandeville, Duncan Gardyne, of Waikaka, Bryce McKenzie of Pomahaka and Laurie Paterson of Waikaka. (file photo)

The group organised a tractor protest on Gore’s main street last year and hosted a public meeting at the Southern Field Days site earlier this year.

It has also circulated a nationwide petition against the freshwater rules, which the group says are ”unworkable.’’

New rules around winter grazing, which were introduced as part of the freshwater rules, have been deferred by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor until May 1 next year, to give farmers more time to develop, test and deploy new practices.

The rules were introduced to improve freshwater quality in a generation, but they will lead to more compliance and monitoring for farmers.

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