The New Zealand Deer Farmers Association is concerned about
the implications for the deer industry of AgResearch's
restructuring plans. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The New Zealand Deer Farmers Association has expressed
''major concerns'' over AgResearch's Future Footprint plan and
says continuing investment at Invermay is vital for the deer
The organisation had become increasingly concerned at the
''growing disconnect'' between the vision and increasing
uncertainty of that plan and its success for the deer farming
industry, chairman Kris Orange said in a statement yesterday.
Concerns related to the viability of succession, retention of
key staff and commitment to the industry should the ''centre
of excellence'' be forced to relocate to Lincoln.
It seemed improbable that sufficient critical mass would be
maintained at Invermay and the association feared the
eventual future loss of the facility and staff, with
consequences for both the deer and sheep industries.
A recent report of key staff resignations, apparently related
to the relocation proposal, was very concerning, Mr Orange
The NZDFA believed the succession planned for could be just
as effective supported by science resources and commitment at
Invermay rather than capital spending on new buildings and
infrastructure within the planned hub.
It did not believe the critical resource contained within the
current large and dedicated deer research farm would be
effectively developed again under Future Footprint plans at
It also feared the ''erosion'' of open and effective
communication at the farm level between the science and
farmer communities, which had been a strong feature of the
deer industry's evolution.
''History has shown that many key staff will not move to a
new location and it appears to us the staff involved with
deer science will be no different. The risk to AgResearch and
agriculture of key staff refusing to move and being lost to
New Zealand science cannot be under estimated,'' he said.
An enhanced status quo at Invermay and retention of jobs,
capability, key staff and confidence was logical, compelling
and critical for the deer farming industry.
AgResearch was in the service industry and needed to
offer what its partners required, Mr Orange said.
AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson was disappointed
to hear about the organisation's concerns, via the media.
AgResearch had been having discussions with all interested
stakeholders since September and it contrasted with the
''positive and constructive meeting'' it had in September in
Wellington with Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), NZDFA and
DEEResearch representatives to discuss its plans.
''This is the first we have heard of NZDFA's subsequent
concerns,'' Dr Richardson said.
After the September meeting, DINZ and the NZDFA indicated
support for the proposal, he said.
''As the largest cash investor in the New Zealand deer
industry, AgResearch is as keen as farmers to ensure we get
the very best possible science out of our investment and on
to New Zealand deer farms.
''Our Future Footprint proposal is designed to do exactly
that, by delivering better science, more efficiently to the
benefit of New Zealand farmers and the pastoral sector.
''It has included careful consideration and research into a
number of options. We are co-locating teams which we think
will greatly benefit from being closer to other teams and
research collaborators doing complementary work across a
range of science disciplines. This will be to the benefit of
New Zealand deer farmers and the overall agricultural
sector,'' he said.