Pahiatua farmer Lincoln Grant spoke at Parliament about why farmers have had enough.

I am Lincoln Grant. We farm a 600ha hill country sheep and beef farm at Pahiatua. It's a beautiful place, scattered with native bush areas, where flocks of 30 kereru are a common sight.

If we planted the farm in pines the Government would pay us about $400,000 a year for doing nothing and we'd never have to work again?

But work is something we actually enjoy, it fulfils our lives. Agriculture is our culture. We are throwing away generations of hard work and the future of our young people. We are here today for our children and grandchildren.

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One of many clever placards - Pahiatua businesses lined up at the bottom.
One of many clever placards - Pahiatua businesses lined up at the bottom.

We want NZ families to own and care for heartland NZ not carbon investors.

In our local town is the backpackers filled with young men from the Pacific Islands planting pine trees on good farmland for the carbon forestry investors. Once planted no work will be done on these farms ever again. They are no-cut pines. The latest property to go that way is just under 404ha, two minutes drive from Pahiatua township. To throw away good farms in this manner is scandalous.

Kerry has outlined the social and economic cost. It's huge and irreversible.

There is an environmental cost as well. Concerns supported by the governments own Department of Conservation which warns, and I quote from the DoC website 'Wilding pines threaten to permanently alter our unique landscapes, as conifers overwhelm our native landscapes, they kill our native plants and evict our native animals. They also have a huge impact on the economy. They suck valuable water out of catchments, add big costs to farming and impact on our tourism and recreational opportunities". We have one government department getting rid of pines, another incentivising and advocating their planting.

Councillor Shirley Hull next to a tractor which drew the attention of Wellingtonians.
Councillor Shirley Hull next to a tractor which drew the attention of Wellingtonians.

Everything has been done to incentivise forestry at the expense of farming but forestry is not the clean green industry that politicians portray.

All of Nelson Marlborough Area 7 scallop fishery has been closed for three years due to sediment run-off and trash from forestry smothering the scallop beds and the flounder aren't fairing much better.

We all saw what happened in Tolaga — massive forestry sediment run-off and trash unleashed on Poverty Bay.

Lea and Joe Fouhy from Pahiatua next to MP Nathan Guy.
Lea and Joe Fouhy from Pahiatua next to MP Nathan Guy.

Farming is constantly affronted and villainised as bad for the environment, despite a huge effort and expense that has gone into fencing waterways, tree planting, land and water catchment groups working for positive change over recent years. We already have billions of trees — the government just don't count them. 50 Shades of Green because we support biodiversity not one shade of green.

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At the heart of this is the question — is the ETS a good environmental solution and means of reducing pollution? The ETS doesn't change behaviour, it just condones it and allows major emitters an out to carry on increasing their pollution. Our national airline Air NZ is a classic example. Using offsetting as a 'greenwashing' marketing tool for guilt free holidays. The reality is offsetting is offloading, two-fold environmental damage, polluting the atmosphere burning jet fuel (incidentally Air NZ spent 1.27 billion on fuel last year) then dumping unwanted pine trees on farmland as a cure that will eventually be rotting mess and a fire hazard. A short-sighted lose/lose situation.

Councillor Shirley Hull with mayor Tracey Collis at Civic Square on Thursday.
Councillor Shirley Hull with mayor Tracey Collis at Civic Square on Thursday.

"We can do so much better for the environment and our people. Surely renewable energy projects are better investment.

Here we are burning more coal than ever in NZ to generate electricity and importing it from Indonesia.

"One local 1200ha farm going into no-cut pines will cost the country 54 million dollars over 20 years in carbon credits and lost export earnings without even considering unemployment. This would be enough to provide solar panels for every home in the Tararua District.

Mike Butterick laid a pine wreath at the steps of Parliament.
Mike Butterick laid a pine wreath at the steps of Parliament.

"Wouldn't it be great if the government supported and promoted NZ agriculture the way they do our tourism industry? Proudly supporting our free-range, grass-fed farming as the world-leading efficient industry it is, not burying it forever under a blanket of pine trees for a flammable, short-term, carbon target fix.

"I would like to say a huge thank you to everybody for attending today, particularly the support of our district mayors and the people who have come out and supported us that aren't farmers but can see this is plain wrong. Politics and the ETS is smoke and mirrors but you guys are real people that care. We can only hope they listen to our concerns.

We are all here because we've had a gutsful of what's happening but I want to give the last word to the dogs, our loyal friends whose jobs and way of life is also on the line.