All five major venison marketing companies and the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA) are backing the introduction of a revamped farmed deer QA standard for farmed deer.
The companies – Silver Fern Farms, Alliance, Duncan NZ Ltd, Firstlight Venison and Mountain River – have agreed on a single standard for deer that will eliminate duplication between companies running their own QA programmes. They have also agreed that, after a three-year phase-in period, compliance with the QA standard will be a requirement for the supply of animals for Cervena™ venison.
The development of the single standard was initiated by the marketers and co-ordinated by Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) as part of the industry’s Passion2Profit (P2P) programme.
For farmers who produce beef, lamb or goat meat, as well as venison, the deer standard is included in yesterday’s announced NZ Farm Assurance Programme, which has been developed by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).
“This means all species will be covered by a single baseline standard and the same audit process, further reducing paperwork for farmers,” says DINZ quality manager John Tacon.
“Venison marketing companies will deliver the standard to their farmer suppliers, with the timing determined by their customer requirements.”
Both P2P and RMPP are Primary Growth Partnership programmes between the Ministry for Primary Industries and, respectively, the deer and red meat industries.
NZDFA chair David Morgan supports the single standard. He says it will help streamline paperwork for those farmers already involved in QA schemes for two or more processors.
“I think any farmers trying QA for the first time will be surprised how easy it is to do and how useful it is. Most farmers will find they are already doing all the things they should, but without the standard and audit you can’t prove this to a third party.
“A QA audit is a great way to check that you and your staff are complying with all the rules and regulations we have to deal with these days. Honest mistakes with things like registers of animal remedies can be extremely expensive. The QA scheme makes it less likely that you will make them.”
While the on-farm benefits of QA are real, the ultimate driver for on-farm QA comes from the marketplace. Venison exporter and DINZ deputy chair Glenn Tyrrell says most NZ deer farmers take great pride in producing a quality product and take animal welfare very seriously.
“This is not necessarily the case in other parts of the world. There have been a number of high profile incidents that have upset consumers,” Tyrrell says.
“Important international customers – foodservice distributors and supermarket buyers – are increasingly demanding proof that all the food products they buy meet their expectations for ethical farming and quality standards. New Zealand’s good reputation is a big plus, but they still want a paper trail and an audit report.”
He says over the years individual exporters have developed their own QA schemes in response to varying customer demands.
“Now we have come together with a single credible standard as part of Passion2Profit that will be easier to communicate to overseas customers.
“Quality in all respects – from animal welfare, to environmental protection, to food safety – underpins the brand values of NZ venison and Cervena in particular. It’s what chefs and consumers are buying and ultimately determines the premium they are willing to pay for our meat.
“I strongly encourage deer farmers to talk to their marketing company or deer agent about what it has to offer them.”
To find out more go to www.deernz.org/QA