Executive Committee Update | Issue 182

Oct 11, 2022

Justin Stevens

At the time of writing this article we are all waiting with bated breath on what the outcome will be from the government with relation to the HWEN proposal. The Executive Committee have meet via Zoom with the Climate Change Commission and we were able to put forward a farmer's perspective on the implications and potential impacts that we may all be faced with. Although the meeting was positive and robust discussion was held, we have been able to have our say, but my main concern is about the unintended consequences that may occur. Could we see even greater plantings of pine trees on once green rolling pastures that had been producing products destined for overseas markets? Will farmers respond positively to the proposed subsidy/financial aid that may have to be introduced where a farmer is unable to make the changes needed? Could we see an increase in diary cow numbers from farmers having to change farming practice and adapt just to survive?

Venison prices are once again at levels lower than lamb and many farmers have chosen to exit the industry rather than hold on and hope for price improvements on the venison schedule. Although this is disappointing, for me it is totally understandable that farmers have to make money to pay a mortgage and remain financially viable. We have met twice this year with venison processors via Zoom and pointed out that farmers are killing capital stock approx. 20,000 deer above what had been forecast to be killed. A common factor for the lower-than-expected price seems to be the cost of freight, but with the current cost of freight now reducing we should see the price increase in the future. Farmers concern over the lower price for young hinds that fit the Cervena marketing criteria is also being addressed, with one processor about to launch a contract specific to the younger hinds at around a 20 cent per kg premium. Venison tick so many boxes when it come to a healthy protein and it is heart wrenching to see the schedule as low as it currently is, with the only winners being the retailers at the current moment in time.

The upcoming velvet season is looking positive at this moment with the weather now warming after a recent late cold snap, the stags are looking fantastic and after 12 months of loving care and attention our new season is well under way. Prices have remained steady at retail outlets in our overseas markets, so how the season shapes up is really in our hands at this moment in time. Consumers seem to be focusing more and more every year on a healthier alternative and after the recent events over the past 3 years, the velvet sector should be in a good position to deliver just that.

- Justin Stevens, NZDFA Executive Committee Chair.

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