Branch Chairs Meeting 2023 | Issue 193

Oct 17, 2023

The NZDFA Branch Chairs Meeting was held on 5 and 6 October in Wellington.  The meeting was held earlier than previously to avoid velveting which was already starting for some farmers. 

Unfortunately it also coincided with the school holidays and a number of the marketing companies being overseas and half a dozen branch chairs were also unavailable. 

Nevertheless the attendees were engaged throughout the whole time and the common themes – costs of production and environmental regulation – were counterbalanced by more upbeat more positive outlooks (good growing season, new faces coming on board NZDFA branches, looking to invigorate branch membership and activities).

Justin Stevens being strong and visionary.

The NZDFA Focus document (presented to the branch chairs at the May meeting) was re-visited by Justin Stevens.  This is essentially describes the strategic focus for the NZDFA that also shows how the organisation works alongside DINZ and other parts of the industry.  The summary points are:

Following this, Mandy Bell took the attendees through an exercise to determine people’s perspectives/ways of working: how would we classify ourselves as people who look to the past for perspective, people who live in the present and ‘get things done’, or those who have a vision or view of the future (always looking for the next challenge and opportunity).

Andrew Peters – gets s**t done!

The new DINZ organisational structure was outlined by Innes Moffat.  DINZ now has a full team on deck now with the newest arrival, Luka Jansen (Environmental Stewardship Manager) attending the meeting in her first week on the job.  She joins the other “newbies” Virginia Connell (Assistant Marketing Manager) and John Ladley (Industry Capability Manager). Luka’s impression of the meeting was “a feeling of optimism, happy to see the new DINZ structure in place and excitement for the (market) opportunities ahead”.    

There were also updates from NZDFA representatives on several bodies – OSPRI, NVSB and the Ian Spiers Memorial Trust.

Dinner was a much more relaxed affair compared with previous meetings – there being no awards or recognitions of achievers to mark this year.  This provided an opportunity for everyone just to relax in a mellow atmosphere, after the house special drink (google “green man pub special stout”).

The following day kicked off with a presentation by Sarah O’Connell from the MPI on-farm support team. While the team does not provide straight out advisory services like the MAF Farm Advisors, they do act as connectors between farmers and those that do provide services.  And they have formed a “friends of deer farmers” group within the team which will help advocate for and support deer farmers around the country.

Mary van Andel, MPI Chief Veterinarian

Next up was Mary van Andel, Chief Veterinarian at MPI, who described all the roles that the army of vets perform in MPI.  As one attendee (who shall remain anonymous) observed: “The chief veterinary officer was a revelation, I cannot ever remember totally agreeing with the way a civil servant is spending my money before.

This was followed by Clifton King, the new OSPRI Head of Traceability. This was a more contentious topic particularly with the number of farmers reporting that animals scanned and registered before going to the DSP were then showing up as unregistered and then farmers not having any ability to contest fines.  Clifton to his credit admitted that the process was not how it should be and he would be looking to change this over time.

Clifton King, OSPRI Head of Traceability

The meeting finished off with Tim Gale from the NZ Game Animal Council (NZAGC) with an overview of the illegal hunting meeting held in June this year.  NZAGC, along with the NZ Police will be aiming to develop a generic information pack that outline the impacts that illegal hunting has on farms, farming families and the wider community.  This is aimed at the judiciary so that convicted offenders will receive penalties that reflect the seriousness of their offending.

Overall there was a lot of information covered in the 1.5 days and plenty to consider.  Please ask your chairs for an update/impressions of the meeting at your next branch meeting. This is a major event that allows two-way communication between grass roots farmers and the wider industry, so your thoughts and comments are important for this meeting’s success and value to members.

Continue reading DFA Stagline Issue 193, next: What's been happening around the country? >>

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