Environmental Code launched for NZ Deer Industry

(Published on 23rd July 2018)

Many years of experience and hard work were unveiled at the Deer Industry Conference in May with the official launch of the Deer Industry Environmental Management Code of Practice.

DINZ Chair Ian Walker and outgoing NZDFA Chair David Morgan presided over the launch.

Ian Walker said the Deer Industry Environment Awards initiated by the late Sir Peter Elworthy in 2000 had been an important landmark.

“Those bi-annual awards are more relevant than ever today – they showcase our efforts to the public and our markets, and more importantly they showcase good management practices to other deer farmers.

“As we all know, farmers learn best from other farmers.”

The NZ Landcare Trust has been a partner and supporter of the awards from the start and the Trust’s Regional Coordinator in Canterbury, Janet Gregory, has been a judge since 2008.

He said good environmental practices began to be codified in 2004 with the first New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Landcare Manual. That document was comprehensively updated in 2012 with Janet Gregory leading the group of farmers, DINZ staff and Deer Farm Association (DFA) representatives.

Walker and Morgan thanked lead authors of the EMCOP Janet Gregory and Edmund Noonan, who were joined on the Code committee by John Somerville, Bob Kingscote, William Oliver, Tony Pearse and Lindsay Fung, representing the deer industry, and Leo Fietje, Dave Connor and Bala Tikkisetty from the regional councils.

Focus farms and Advance Parties that concentrate on environmental management, and research programmes looking at ways deer farmers can improve environmental performance, had all contributed.

“NZ Landcare Trust videos showing good deer farming environmental practices, and the Deer Fact Sheets are also highlighting environment topics,” he said.

“A lot has changed since our environment awards were launched. Regional councils are now working to put the amended National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management into effect, and with the change of government last year, that policy direction isn’t going to change any time soon.

“It’s no longer good enough to just go out and change a few things on your place in the hope that you’ll be complying with the rules. It takes good planning, good advice and good documentation. You need to show you’re doing the right thing.

“The Deer Industry Environmental Management Code of Practice brings together and updates all of the good advice that’s gone before, and it provides you with a clear pathway for putting that into practice in a way that’s going to satisfy the regulators.”

The document, which was designed by NZ Landcare Trust Graphic Designer Abby Davidson, is broken into easy to use sections relating to good management practice and recognises deer specific behaviours for management. It is designed to help farmers compile their Farm Environment Plan as well as being a resource for rural professionals and council staff on GMPs for deer farming.

Walker said DINZ wanted to see about a quarter of all deer farmers having used the new code of practice to help put together a Farm Environment Plan by 2019 and three-quarters of all deer farms to have done this by 2020, with the rest not far behind.

David Morgan said the Code is a “fantastic resource” that was practical and easy to follow.

“I was pleased to see that some of the things I’ve been doing at home are also in here! At Raincliff Station, we have our share of environmental challenges.

“When you’re farming deer, that means you have to take a lot of care with pretty much everything – stock management, paddock design, the crops you grow, water reticulation, nutrient management, waste management – you name it, we have to think about it.”

Morgan said that if you farm deer well, you are half way there when it comes to meeting your environmental obligations.

“Deer that are healthy, well fed, not stressed and given the room to act like deer will be a lot easier on the environment than a poorly managed herd. Good environmental practices and good business do go hand in hand.

“The things you do might be as simple as putting crushed rock around some water troughs to stop the deer making a mess, or it could be a big phased project retiring and planting some sensitive areas.”

Morgan said that where people have started making changes like this, it doesn’t take long before the work starts to bear fruit.

“People feel incredible pride when they see a healthier stream or more bird life appearing on their farm. It’s hard to put a price on that.”

•       The Deer Industry Environmental Management Code of Practice was produced by DINZ as part of the Passion2Profit strategy, a partnership between DINZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries. NZ Landcare Trust’s Canterbury Regional Coordinator and South Island Team Leader Janet Gregory was the author of the publication. It can be downloaded from www.deernz.org

•       To order a hard copy email: info@deernz.org

Greater environmental focus to come

Introducing the conference environment session, DINZ CEO Dan Coup said the detail of what government was thinking on environmental matters wasn’t entirely clear, but there were three major pieces of work being done that affect agriculture:

1.   The National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management that has driven regional council plans is being revised.

2.   Agriculture will be brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme, with its financial exposure initially restricted to five percent of total emission liabilities.

3.   A new National Policy Statement on Biodiversity is being written and will also be handed to regional councils for implementation.

Coup said that in response to the increased policy activity at central government level, DINZ will be dedicating more resource to environmental stewardship, putting more “boots on the ground” at farm level. He said that the deer industry was “ahead of the game” for a long time. “That was great, but others have caught up. We need to get back ahead of the pack.”

 

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