May 5, 2023
What’s been happening around the country?
As this issue of DFA Stagline goes live, registrations for the industry conference have closed a week out. It and the awards dinner promise to be a packed-out event and a welcome change from the recent disrupted “Covid years”. Many thanks to all of you who will be attending and my apologies to those of you who have missed out this time (there is a wait list as some people may still pull out). Additional road shows are being considered so there will be opportunities later in the year to engage with the wider industry.
As always there seems to be a lot happening around the country, including ongoing recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle. On that note the funds that were raised via the bidr auction for recovery will be distributed to five North Island branches which had farms that were severely damaged by the cyclone. There are still a couple of successful auction bidders that have yet to settle but we hope to get the funds out as soon as that happens.
Over April I have been very fortunate to have been part of the Deer Industry Environment Awards judging panel that has been judging this year’s entrants. Held every two years this event always unearths amazing farms run by amazing farmers (oh yes and the deer are in pretty good nick too). This year we had six high quality and diverse entries (three in the South Island, three in the North Island) – the winners will be announced at the conference awards dinner on 10 May but suffice to say all the entrants are true ambassadors for our industry.
Unfortunately what we see on these farms and many others around the country – responsible farming with well looked after animals and light environmental footprints – does not seem to get the recognition it deserves. Instead, blunt, prescriptive environmental regulations threaten to impose unnecessary and mis-directed costs of compliance that will reduce the viability of farming deer on some land types. Clearly there is more work to do here and the NZDFA can play an important role in engaging with regional councils and the wider New Zealand community to bring deer farming into better perspective. The DINZ strategy strapline is “thrive with passion” – our farmers have passion in truck loads, we just need the conditions that allow us to thrive.
Speaking of which it has been tough in the venison market since Covid and while there has been recovery in the prices, this year saw the cancellation of the Taihape weaner sales. Venison prices have dominated NZDFA branches’ concerns and will a topic of interest at the conference and amongst NZDFA Branch Chairs. It is no secret that hind kills have been up over the last year and there appears to be a move towards velvet production away from venison which will also have flow on impacts.
A quick word on our recent elections and the upcoming appointment for the DINZ Board. Last year we were challenged by the vagaries of postal voting for positions on the Selections and Appointments Panel (SAP). Changes to the NZDFA Constitution last year allowed us to accept emailed scanned copies of the voting forms and as a result we received double the number of voting forms compared with last year. As a result we have increased the cost effectiveness of this approach and will continue to look at ways to make this democratic process more affordable and accessible. Regardless we have two very high calibre people filling the vacant positions – they will be formally announced at next week’s NZDFA Annual General Meeting.
The SAP will then be tasked with selecting a director for the DINZ Board due to the retirement of Kris Orange. We thank Kris for his term of office and for representing the farmers' voice and interests at the Board table. This year we are fortunate to have four candidates each with some very impressive skill sets and experience. The candidate statements are included in this issue of DFA Stagline and attendees at the AGM will get to meet and hear the candidates.
Finally, the awards dinner will also be announcing winners of the Deer Industry and Matuschka awards. Without giving anything away, the winners faced some stiff competition from other nominees and there were some hard decisions for both of the judging panels but I think you will agree that this year’s winners are highly deserving and epitomise much of what makes this industry what it is.
I’m looking forward to catching up with some of you at conference and for others I wish you a settled and warm autumn followed by a stress- and mud-free winter!
- Lindsay Fung, Producer Manager