Oct 8, 2021
DINZ’s recent communications to farmers about changes to the RCS audit system certainly generated a lot of interest and the phone lines ran hot for a few days dealing with all the enquiries that came in.
A few valuable lessons were learned, including explaining exactly what was meant by the term ‘RCS’. So, here it is… everything you need to know about the RCS programme and its associated audits.
First of all, the RCS isn’t new. It stands for ‘Regulated Control Scheme’ and has been in place for the last three years. It only affects those who remove velvet and covers off the hygiene, storage and transport requirements needed for velvet to be exported as a human food product.
Over the last three years, DINZ has offered all farmers involved in the velvet industry the opportunity to have their deer shed and freezers audited free of charge. This is the ‘RCS audit’ and to date, over 1,000 facilities have been inspected and passed.
You will know if you have had an RCS audit, which is different to your annual supervising vet visit or occasional velvet removal audit, because it would have focused on your shed, looking at things like clean zones, flooring and walls, the condition of your restraint facilities and your freezer, rather than actual velvet removal. It would also have been conducted by one of the deer industry auditors, rather than someone from MPI or Assure Quality. After the audit, you would have received an email with the outcome, including any actions if things needed to be improved.
Sound familiar? If so, then the chances are that you’ve either had one already or decided to opt out and not sell your velvet for human consumption. If you are unsure, then call 04 473 4500 and someone will be able to check for you.
Secondly, now that the three-year timeframe for implementing the RCS programme has finished, DINZ is no longer paying for new audits to take place. As a result, all new shed and freezer audits requested under the Regulated Control Scheme will be charged to the individual being audited. The cost for one of these audits is currently $500 (+ GST), plus the auditor’s travel costs.
Finally, DINZ will soon begin monitoring compliance as part of the requirements of the Regulated Control Scheme, in order to provide the Ministry for Primary Industries with ongoing assurance that the programme is being followed. Monitoring audits will be conducted at DINZ’s expense, however, any initial RCS audits that are required will be charged to the individual being audited.
Copies of the Regulated Control Scheme for the Harvest of Deer Velvet are available for free download on the Ministry for Primary Industries website at mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/19379/direct