What’s been happening around the country? | Issue 195

Dec 14, 2023

As the year end gets closer, I hope your velveting has gone well and calving is also happening without any problems.  It seems that many places have an embarrassment of feed but there are also areas that could do with some welcome rain.

There’s been a good number of velvet competitions around the country and results will be published on the DINZ website with major winners also announced later in this issue.  Congratulations to all entrants – I only managed to get to a couple this year but there seemed to be more entries this year and all of very high standard and quality. 

However even more pleasing was seeing a good number of farmers get off the farm for the evening and relax amongst friends and family.  It was great to hear that some branches that had received cyclone relief funds from the NZDFA charity auction were using some of those funds to support these social gatherings. Please take time to look after yourselves and your whanau in what can be a hectic and stressful period.

This time last year we were celebrating some of our 2021 Environment Award winners at field days.  This year we have kicked off the 2023 winners field days with a stunning day at Glen Dene – Richard and Sarah Burdon’s farm on the shores of Lake Hawea. About 60 visitors in 4WD convoy wound their way through the hill country with the lake on one side and views of the Southern Alps on the other.  There will be a full write up in the next issue of Deer Industry News but for now here are some intentionally gratuitous photos of a fantastic day out, expertly facilitated by Tony Pearse and well presented by our hosts and invited speakers.

Some the attendees on Instagram Hill.

Trophy stags strutting their stuff.

Richard and Sarah – 2023 Elworthy Award winners + kowhai sapling

In the last issue of DFA Stagline we mentioned that the Bay of Plenty branch had developed a close connection with Tauranga Boys College and has sponsored the agricultural award for the top senior student. Ivan Davies, a teacher at the college and strong advocate for deer farming has provided a nice write up of this connection and we congratulate Aidan Spratley and Astin Milhan as the senior and junior student award winners respectively. This annual award is co-sponsored by the Bay of Plenty branch of the NZDFA and DINZ through the Community Engagement fund (please contact me if you want to find out more about this).

Looking back over the year it’s been very challenging for farmers with ever increasing costs of production, some horrendous damage from mother nature and the ever-present regulatory threats from central government and a new challenge for our velvet market.

To counter this there was an amazing response from the deer farming community in raising funds for the cyclone affected farmers. Amazing in terms of the amount raised, but also amazing that this grass roots initiative developed quickly and independently of the general emergency management and recovery efforts. Once again thanks to Bidr and the auction idea coming from Todd Crowley and Mark Tapley.

The new government may reduce some of the regulatory burden, but this will take time to turn around. However with two associate ministers of agriculture coming from a farming background and the minister having a long association with the primary sector we should have a good opportunity to make farming great again (sorry – had to be said!!).

Despite the challenges of the year, the usual NZDFA events went ahead and were, by all accounts, well received. This year we resumed the industry conference (held in Ashburton) but with a shortened format (one day plus a field trip) – based on numbers alone it exceeded expectations and with lots of positive feedback we will be looking to have a similar format for next year’s conference in Napier (8 and 9 May – block out your calendar now).

The Next Generation Programme also in Ashburton was hosted by the Canterbury West Coast branch and the Elk and Wapiti Society and as always was fully booked out. The attendees ranged from cadets to experienced farm managers and were mostly first timers to the programme.

Throw in the October Branch Chairs meeting, a couple of DINZ roadshows (with the NZDFA presenting) and a Rural Professionals workshop for Environment Canterbury staff and the year was active from a NZDFA perspective.

One thing that we stress at the roadshows and engaging with people external to the industry is the extremely close connection between farmers and DINZ. Many external people note that this is not so obvious in other primary industries. I think there are two reasons for this: i) Our industry is small, so it is easier for people to know each other and ii) the NZDFA and its branch network is an extremely efficient way of keeping people informed and seeking farmer comment on issues of importance.

The NZDFA Executive Committee is also active in selecting farmer representatives on various interest groups or organisations, namely the National Velvetting Standards Body, OSPRI Stakeholders Council, DINZ Environmental Policy Reference Group and DINZ Research Advisory Panel. Representation on these groups ensures that farmer views are  conveyed to other stakeholders and similarly any developments can be relayed back to our farmers. Please make use of these representatives or your local branch committee if you have any questions.

Best wishes for the remainder of the velveting season, and for successful calving. Hopefully you can enjoy a break over Christmas and New Year and let’s hope that El Nino is not a big deal.

- Lindsay Fung, Producer Manager

Continue reading DFA Stagline Issue 195, next: Recap: Velvet Comps how they went >>


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