Jul 14, 2022
Central Otago deer farmer and veterinarian Amanda (Mandy) Bell has been elected chair of the Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) board. Gerard Hickey, group managing director of First Light Foods, has been elected deputy chair.
At a meeting in Wellington last week, two new producer appointees, Hamish Fraser, South Canterbury and Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Waikato, were also welcomed to the board. They replace Mark Harris and Ian Walker, the former chair, who have retired.
“Both Gerard and I will be active in the governance of the board, which has committed itself to accelerating the recovery of the industry from Covid,” Bell says.
“We believe there is a large untapped potential for profitable venison production on drystock farms. The industry’s response to the Covid pandemic has been focused on building market opportunity. We now have a much greater spread of markets and market segments than ever before and with those, we can offer much greater income security to venison producers.
“The board also recognises the value that velvet adds to the industry. This is true, even on venison operations, where velvet from spikers and sire stags adds significantly to the economics of farming deer.”
Bell says DINZ will be continuing to support producers with policy advocacy where needed. It also plans to use the industry’s environmental leadership to build sales of venison and velvet to affluent customers who are seeking healthy foods that are produced to the highest environmental and animal welfare standards.
Bell is co-owner of Criffel Station, Wanaka and has commercial interests in animal health product importing and trading companies.
She has also been involved in the development of several major deer industry initiatives. These include the Passion2Profit programme that has been instrumental in the development of new venison markets; the deer progeny test that has greatly strengthened Deer Select, the industry’s genetic database; and DeerPRO, that detects and manages Johnes disease in deer.
Bell is a passionate believer in the potential of sustainable land management systems to deliver better environmental performance and economic outcomes for farmers.
In this context she was a member of the Freshwater Leaders Group and is chair and programme director of WAI Wanaka, a collaborative approach to improving environmental outcomes in Lake Wanaka and the Upper Clutha.
Bell has had a lifelong interest in deer, attending NZ’s first-ever live deer auction as a child and working with fallow deer as a vet student. She and husband Jerry (who has previously served as a DINZ board member) farm 6000 deer at Criffel Station. Their other business interests include tourism and property development.
Deer Industry NZ is unique among primary industry organisations in that it is an industry board. The NZ Deer Farmers Association appoints four producer members via its Selection and Appointments Panel. Three members are appointed by venison processors and marketers. One member is appointed by velvet processors and exporters.
The chair is elected by board members at their annual meeting in July and is traditionally a deer farmer.