Membership of the organisation representing rural butchers is falling as operators come under financial pressure from declining stock numbers and recessionary conditions.
The rural butchers group, part of Federated Farmers, represents mainly small-scale operators who provide home-kill sevices for farmers and other livestock owners who want stock processed for their own use.
It was formed when regulations covering the home kill trade were tightened and rural butchers decided they needed a representative voice.
Chairman Gibby Campbell says membership numbers have fallen to half the level they were two years ago, due to a decline in stock numbers and an increase in costs and fees.
Mr Campbell says the lack of recent big issues specific to rural butchers has also taken some of the focus off the need to have a collective vocie.
However, he says that could change with the Code of Practice for Commercial Slaughter due to be published soon, which he believes has the potential to impose significant additional costs on many rural butchery operations.