Farmers are being forced to accept a lesser form of transport with NSW road rules banning side-by-side vehicles from travelling faster than moving cattle.
Finley diary farmer Neville Kydd wonders whether to ride his pushbike to the job, rather than take the replacement for his favoured light-weight quad bike.
The Kydd family enterprise stretches along 10 kilometres of public road, albeit mostly single lane, and rely on paddock vehicles to move cows and heifers along that stretch as it is paramount to dairy production.
Each off-road farm vehicle travels about 10,000km a year.
Under the current NSW road rules a transit of the farm can take half an hour with the side-by-side purring along slower than a bicycle.
"NSW road rules stipulate I cannot travel more than 20 kilometres per hour but cattle on a run can travel faster than that," says Mr Kydd, who runs 1600 head through two dairies with his wife Ruth assisted by a number of farm hands including backpacker labour. "I'd be breaking the law just to keep up."
Jobs that used to be done efficiently on a quad bike now take twice as long in the side-by-side and a ute is not practical when accessing paddocks to open gates, shift an electric fence, or move cows. Neither are motorbikes as casual farm labour don't always have a motorbike licence, as required in this state.
Oddly NSW rules stipulate speeds on side-by-side up to 40km/hr for vehicles registered with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and up to 50km/hr for those registered with Essential Energy.
The vehicles, fitted with seatbelts, are capable of travelling at highway speed.
"I am just gobsmacked at these rules," says Mr Kydd. "It's as if the NSW Government is saying farmers are not capable of driving. The attitude is really derogatory to us. If you go that slow on a road with traffic you become the victim. If I get hit from behind I am dead. It is quite dangerous."
Side by side vehicles with 600cc engines can travel at 70km/hr if allowed while the 1000cc models do 100km/hr "easily".
To add financial burden to the regulations side-by-side vehicles weigh 700kg compared to 200kg for a light quad and drink four times the volume of petrol.
The old quad bikes, particularly the lighter ones weighing about 200 kilograms, were ideal for farm work as a rider could dismount left or right to drive cattle. They were allowed to drive on public roads to a speed of 48km/hr which helped reduce traffic congestion. However, the light quads are no longer available in the Australian market.
"We're just trying to be safe and efficient farmers," Mr Kydd says.