While protests dominated the town of Morrinsville yesterday, half an hour away it was business as usual for sharemilkers Sophia Clark and Aaron Mills.

"I just love it because you're outside, you're not stuck behind a desk all day, and you're working for yourself. That's one thing that I love about it. And it's one of the only industries where you can come from absolutely nothing and build a business of your own," Sophia says.

The couple have been farming for 7 years and have been sharemilking for two seasons in Waharoa and they're worried about what Labour is calling a "water royalty".

"If someone with a clipboard is going to come along and say they know better than us, it's almost insulting and especially to those farmers who have been farming for generations and generations, because they care about the land," she says.


Labour says the royalty will be poured back into regional councils to fund water quality projects, but Sophia and Aaron don't buy it.

"How much of this tax will go to something that's actually tangible? How much of this tax will go to bureaucracy and is it going to be user pays?"

Water purity has become an issue since the increase in intensive dairy farming, but Aaron says farmers have put their own money towards riparian planting and fencing waterways, sometimes assisted by MPI's Sustainable Farming fund.

"Farmers are already investing massive amounts of time effort and money into being more sustainable and another tax on top of that just makes it harder and harder. The farms become less profitable they can't reinvest back in their business, they can't even go forward, it just slows everything down," he says.

Protest Organiser Andrew McGiven believes the government should be investing more in farmers' businesses with increased research and monitoring.

"Most OECD countries are spending between two and four percent of GDP on research and development. New Zealand struggles to get to one percent from government. So I think we need to up our game with research and development," he says.

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