Flooding in lower Southland over the weekend shows how difficult it is for farmers to adhere to controversial new government regulations, Bernadette Hunt says.
"It is another example of why resowing by a regulated date, as opposed to when conditions are suitable, just doesn't make sense," Hunt, who is Federated Farmers vice president for Southland, told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
Hunt was referring to regulations in the government's National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, which said farmers in Southland and Otago would be required to resow winter feed crop paddocks by November 1.
Although the sudden flooding over the weekend was unexpected, "crazy weather in October" was not unusual in the region, and any environmental regulations had to take that into account, Hunt said.
Despite her reservations about the looming resowing date, Hunt was confident there would be further changes to the regulations "no matter who the government is post 17 October", and she urged farmers to carry to keep calm and carry on.
"I guess I'm trying to put the message out there now to farmers to try not to dwell on that [resowing] and stress about it. We don't need the extra pressure of that," she said.
"Focus on what you're doing, do it well and let Feds and Beef and Lamb and DairyNZ get on with trying to get some of this stuff sorted out post-election."
"People are pretty strung out and I think on the whole, we need to put that out of our minds for a wee while."
Farmers in some parts of Southland were still dealing with up to three times the average rainfall in September. Now they had to cope with between two or three inches of rain overnight, Hunt said.
"It was just a deluge. Totally different to the February floods where the water came down from elsewhere. In this case it was just a huge influx of rain in a very short space of time."
As a result, some farmers were "caught unawares" by the flooding overnight and ended up with stranded stock they couldn't reach the following morning, Hunt said.
Southland and West Otago had had its fair share of extreme weather lately, with snow affecting the regions only last week.
It was difficult to work out the effect on stock numbers, especially in hill country areas where animals were difficult to reach, Hunt said.
"It's really hard to judge numbers with these things ... so it's probably something that we'll never know."
"Fortunately in lower Southland a lot of lambing was well through. It's those guys up in eastern Southland and West Otago in the hills a bit more that will have suffered the losses."