Deer Industry New Zealand is making plans “to live within in its means” as it prepares for changes in the sector to get the industry body fit for future purpose.
With venison income expected to reduce in the next few years and in anticipation of velvet production increasing, it is important to ensure that velvet and venison expenditure balance income, Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat told attendees at the industry’s annual conference in Ashburton.
As part of reducing costs, DINZ is evaluating the skills that will be needed in the future and next month will move to a smaller office as it co-locates with Beef + Lamb NZ in a step to reduce overheads.
“In the past three months we have looked hard at how we work for you,” Innes told farmers.
“To thrive you need profit, pride and confidence in the future. I know that we are not thriving.”
The hind kill is up, the breeding herd is shrinking, the budget on venison kill is down to 260,000 deer next year, if the hind herd stops shrinking.
“DINZ can’t set prices but we can manage your risks and we can influence confidence in the industry,” Moffat said.
“But what we had before is not what we need in the years ahead.”
As part of the changes DINZ has looked at reduced revenue, changing farmer requirements and greater emphasis on new market development.
“We are clear that farmers’ needs are at the heart of everything we do. We have looked at how we work for you and are making changes.”
DINZ requires some different skills to get fit for purpose.
“We have looked across the team and made changes to who will be responsible for your business.
“We are in the midst of this process and I want to thank DINZ staff for the commitment they have shown to work on making DINZ fit for purpose.”
Moffat told farmers to expect disruptions to some services in the coming months.
“We need to bed in some new faces and new ways of working as we improve the capability and leadership you need from your industry good organisation.
“We are very clear that a new level of customer service is required.”
Meantime DINZ is focused on key areas to do fewer things better across five core functions: advocacy and government relations; market access and development; industry practice and capability; research and insights; and Deer Farmers’ Association (DFA) support and partnering, working together to benefit deer farmers.
“Government knows very little about the practicalities of deer farming so we represent your interests professionally in Wellington across issues that affect your ability to farm deer.
“They are not going to stop HWEN [He Waka Eke Noa], biodiversity, food safety or biosecurity, but we will increase the emphasis on representing the deer industry interests on these specific issues.”
Innes said to be profitable the industry needs to grow demand and improve access for its products.
A core function for DINZ is market access and development.
“We will continue to press our trade representatives to open the path to market for our deer products.”
To build demand in new markets, DINZ will partner with the marketing companies to co-operate where it makes sense for them to do so to get critical mass in new markets and to attract co-funding for collaborative activities.
“Our five venison marketing companies have come together with DINZ support to apply to [the Ministry for Primary Industries] for funding for the North American retail programme.”
Three velvet companies, with DINZ support, are working together to open the market in China.
“And we can extract more value from co-products and tap into the market for nutritional supplements derived from free-range meat products.
“But we also need to be mindful of the geopolitical risk of overreliance on one market.”
Innes acknowledged a big part of having confidence is having certainty, with quality assurance systems essential to ensure good animal welfare and social acceptance.
“Industry capability also includes making sure you have information available to improve profitability and productivity, translating science into practical tools.”
In doing this DINZ will continue to run Advance Parties, environment groups and rural professional workshops to improve the service sector’s knowledge of deer farmer requirements.
A new focus will be working together to create the pathways to bring new entrants into the industry, building on the DFA Nex Gen programme and connections with universities.
Innes assured farmers DINZ is up for the challenge of leading the industry into a more confident future.
“Together we can create a brighter and more prosperous future for deer farming and for all those who want to be part of it.”