Breed societies and industry organisations help members share information, promote New Zealand produce for export, and encourage increased diversity of produce. Sometimes they intervene in politics. For example, Pipfruit New Zealand, which represents apple and pear growers, has lobbied to get New Zealand apples allowed into the Australian market.
Diversification and industry organisation
The diversification of farming after the economic reforms of the 1980s led to traditional national agricultural organisations being joined by emerging sectors in agriculture (llamas, alpacas, ostriches, emus) and horticulture (kiwifruit, wine, olives). The small number of participants in these new industries saw the development of voluntary organisations and associations.
The Commodity Levies Act was introduced in 1990 to formalise farmer and grower organisations. It legislated for compulsory levies in industries where the benefits of collectivism, particularly in relation to research, marketing and product development, could be undermined if some were ‘free-riding’ on the efforts of voluntary members.
Early on, every breed of sheep, cattle and horse had its own breed society. But since the 1970s many exotic breeds have been imported, and some in such small numbers that breed societies have not been formed. The Royal Agricultural Society has 31 registered beef and dairy cattle breed societies and 12 horse breed societies. There are around 19 sheep breed societies.
Breed societies have several functions. Primarily, they define what makes a particular breed. Body conformation, size, head shape, colour and markings are some of the traits that sets one breed apart from another. Breed societies organise judging at Agricultural and Pastoral shows, and set the standards by which animals are judged. They also arrange social events and field days, where members visit stud flocks and herds in different parts of the country.
The increase in dairy herd sizes led to the establishment of the New Zealand Large Herds Association in 1970. At that time, 300 head of cattle was considered a large herd – in 2008 it was 700 head. In 2008 the average herd size in New Zealand was 325 head.
Pig Breeders’ Association
The New Zealand Pig Breeders’ Association was established in 1915. The first herd book was produced in 1918, signalling the beginning of formal breeding and record-keeping. At its peak the association had some 600 members, but in 2008 the four branches had only 53 members. The Kunekune Breeders’ Association was formed in 1988 for breeders of this unique type of pig.
Deer Farmers’ Association
The New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association was founded in 1975 – five years after the first licensed deer farm was established – and had 25 members. Other deer industry organisations are the Fallow Society, Swedish and Danish Deer Breed Society, Elk and Wapiti Society, Warnham and Woburn Society, Deer Industry Association, and the Velvet Processors' Association.
Other animal societies
Goat farmers are represented by the New Zealand Dairy Goat Breeders’ Society (established in 1955), the New Zealand Boer Goat Breeders’ Association (1989) and the Anglo-Nubian Breed Society of New Zealand (2005). There are breed societies for llamas, alpacas and ostriches.
The New Zealand Fruitgrowers’ Federation, formed in 1916, was one of the earliest horticultural associations in New Zealand – many more followed. The Horticulture Export Authority Act 1987 created organisations to manage exports in addition to the associations for growers. For example, there is an Avocado Industry Council as well as the New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association. In 2005 Horticulture New Zealand grouped together the Vegetable and Potato Growers’ (VegFed) and Fruitgrowers’ federations, making it responsible for most fruit- and vegetable-grower organisations in the country.