Southland deer farmers fear for the future of the industry in
their area and believe that large numbers of deer and deer
farmers will ''continue to bleed'' in the lower South, unless
action is taken to improve farmer confidence.
In an open letter to the deer industry, the Southland branch
of the New Zealand Deer Farmers Association (SDFA) said there
was disillusionment and frustration among deer farmers, about
the apparent ''disconnect'' between the Deer Industry New
Zealand board and ''ordinary'' deer farmers.
Reports of farmers exiting from the industry and unconfirmed
reports of ''huge numbers'' of capital stock hinds being
killed throughout the country prompted a discussion at the
branch and consequently the letter being written last month.
The SDFA believed the DINZ board had failed to give deer
farmers any clear direction over the past 18 months and
demonstrated a lack of leadership and understanding towards
the main problem facing farmers, which was a lack of
The SDFA wanted to see the industry leadership address the
issue ''head on'', working with the exporters and delivering
some short-term relief to venison producers while developing
strategies that would differentiate New Zealand farm-raised
venison, so a premium could be received over the likes of
feral Spanish deer.
In his response to the branch, DINZ chairman Andy Macfarlane
said the board was aware of the prevailing farming sentiment
and was deeply concerned about the state of confidence in the
While deer production remained the most profitable of dry
stock classes in New Zealand in most situations, DINZ was
''acutely aware'' of the need to improve profits and
''We agree that without changes that significantly improve
further and prevent a loss of deer farmers to the industry,
deer farm profitability, the viability of DINZ itself will
come into question.''
DINZ did not have a ''magic wand'' to transform prices
overnight, Mr Macfarlane said, but it did have a strong
strategy to positively influence the industry's profitability
over the next two to five years.
He pointed out DINZ represented deer farmers, processors and
marketers. Its major investments were in research - mainly to
develop more efficient methods of deer farming - and generic
product promotion - to produce preference for New Zealand
venison, as well as a range of other services to the sector.
It did not buy or sell deer, it did not set a schedule and it
did not negotiate product prices with customers, he said.
DINZ intended to hold some ''kitchen table'' meetings to
discuss the concerns that had been raised and also outline