25 Aug 2010

Deer farmers hope for more settled year

6:37 am on 25 August 2010

Deer farmers are hoping for a more settled season after a volatile year.

The Ministry of Agriculture's latest farm monitoring report shows weather conditions, including drought in the North Island and export-challenging exchange rates, had a significant impact on deer farmers' incomes in the 2009-10 season.

Velvet prices lifted by between 47% and 57%, back to the $80 - $90 per kilo range.

The average price for main income earner venison dropped $1 per kilo on the previous year, although it was still above the five-year average.

While farmers' profits were down, on average they broke even or made a small cash surplus.

Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Mark O'Conner says the exchange rate will be a big influence again this year, with the New Zealand dollar 20% stronger against the euro than it was a year ago.

But he says the outlook for the next year is still reasonably positive. Exporters report stock levels are manageable and chilled orders are looking good.

Mr O'Conner says there are also reports of less European wild game available after a tough winter there.