"An assault on the regions" - Simon Bridges hits back at government plans to cut cattle numbers

Speaking with Jack Tame on One's Breakfast this morning, National leader Simon Bridges labelled the government's recent crack downs on the nation's primary industries as "reckless". 

Bridges acknowledged the importance of reducing agriculture's environmental impacts, but said the complete lack of a plan to compensate for the effects these measures will have on the economy is worrying. 

His comments come after Environment Minister David Parker announced plans to set nutrient loss limits on farms, a measure that will force some farmers to destock.

Bridges stressed the importance of recognizing farming's vital contribution to the national economy, and that, when it comes down to it, we're all in this together:

"We're in this together, urban and rural. If the farmers sneeze, we all catch a cold, and its easy to do-in these industries and pose costs, but if you don't have a plan for new ones coming through... I mean that's literally how we pay for our healthcare and education."

Tame pointed out plans for taking on new tech to combat nutrient loss, which may only mean stock-reduction of 10-15 percent in the worst-affected areas. Bridges, however, said that in truth, we really don't know if that's true:

"We don't know because there's no detail, there's no flesh on these bones, I mean it's effectively just a statement. If I was looking to invest in the farming sector, I'd be wondering about what all this means. The government worries about why business confidence is down- it's because of cavalier statements like these."

In response to the idea of incentivising things like horticulture, Bridges responded:

"Well a few apricots aren't going to cut it. It's all very well saying those sort of things, but if that was such a good idea it would be happening now. I'm from a horticultural area, I see the benefit of those things, but there a bunch of reasons why we are big in dairying, so just to come in there and say, 'well i'm in government, I know best, we can do away with some of the cows' is pretty reckless and symptomatic of this government. 

Bridges says what was lacking on the irrigation funding cuts, oil and gas, and now this proposal too, is a plan:

"What's missing is a sense of analysis and a plan that guides us to the future over time. There's none of that. A thought out plan is what is required. We haven't seen any of that, and I doubt we will."