Talk turned to a warts and all discussion at the recent deer industry conference in Invercargill.

The topics had an environmental sustainability emphasis with lots of the presenters overviewing new greenhouse gas (GHG) and biodiversity rules and regulations in the pipeline. Not surprisingly there was palpable frustration within the room (especially around GHG emissions) and a few farmers vented their frustrations about the broadening definition of sustainable farming. But Solis Norton, general manager of DeerPro, had a different take. He said farmer pushback to environmental moves and concerns about encroachment of privacy as part of proposed consent processes for winter cropping was like the reaction he faced when trying to get the industry to face up to the problem of Johne’s Disease in deer. To paraphrase, he said it was like a male noticing a wart on his private parts, knowing it wasn’t right but frightened to speak out for fear of drawing attention to the problem and likely prognosis.

“I think that there’s real power in having something (like FEPs) in your back pocket to show how you’re making progress.”