Venison levy increase proposed by DINZ

An increase in the levy on venison – the first in a decade – will be needed for Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) to fund its share of the Passion 2 Profit (P2P) initiative and to continue the other work it does for deer farmers and venison marketers.

DINZ chair Andy Macfarlane says in the latest DINZ e-News that income from the venison levy is falling at the same time as expenditure is increasing on P2P, the blueprint for making venison production more profitable. The fall in venison levy income this year will be about $275,000.

“Total deer numbers have been falling for several years, but we are now seeing significant herd retention. This will reduce slaughter numbers in the short term, but will stabilise output in the medium-term.

“Meanwhile we are making a big investment in P2P: $1.1 million last year, $2 million this year and continuing at around $2 million in each of the next five years,” he says.

“To fund this, the DINZ board proposes to increase the levy on venison by three cents a kilogram, from 19.69 c/kg to 22.69 c/kg (including TBFree and NAIT estimates), from 1 September. Half the venison levy is paid by farmers and half by processors, so the increase will be 1.5 c/kg each.”

Macfarlane says no increase is needed in the velvet levy of 325 c/kg.

“Our velvet levy income is increasing in line with production. This will enable us to invest more in the healthy foods sector in Asia. The companies involved value the quality and integrity of NZ velvet and are our fastest-growing market opportunity.”

When the DINZ board devised the P2P initiative, it decided to initially fund its investment from reserves, while recognising that sooner or later an increase in the venison levy would be needed.

“We have flagged this at past Deer Industry Conferences. As a result of consultation, we drafted a proposal that was debated by NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA) branch chairs at their November 2015 meeting,” he says.

“Based on their feedback, we have pruned our proposed work programme and levy increase to the minimum we believe is credible. We will now present our proposal to the NZDFA branch chairs in late April and the 2016 conference in May.”

Macfarlane says the deer industry has “stepped up a gear” in the last three years.

“The momentum created from a defined strategy for success, backed with a lot of hard work from producers, exporters, DINZ and other industry stakeholders, now needs to be matched with funding.

“We are determined to ensure that venison and velvet production remain sustainable, profitable land uses that can be integrated with other livestock classes.

“We have developed a range of on-farm and in-market initiatives and successfully applied to Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for co-funding of these from the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Primary Growth Partnership.”

He says it’s early days, but on-farm there are already 15 Advance Parties getting runs on the board. P2P, which is supported by all five venison exporters, is into its second year of Cervena trials in Europe.

Meanwhile, in response to requests from NZDFA branches, an environmental policy manager has been appointed to help deer farmers work with their regional councils on new environmental policies.

Macfarlane is confident that DINZ is on the right track with P2P and its other investments.

“P2P is starting to show early results. We’re very confident that it is a good value investment for the industry.  As a Board we will be focused, alongside our investment partner MPI, on making sure that this money is used judiciously and delivers value to our constituents”.

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