A survey showing 92.1% of sheep breeders are against
shifting Invermay jobs north is yet more damning evidence
against AgResearch's proposal, the survey's author, Dr Jock
However, AgResearch has slammed the methods used by the
former Invermay director and AgResearch board member, calling
the survey ''biased''.
''This is a biased and skewed survey and comes to the
conclusions it set out to achieve.
''It underlines the importance of continuing to communicate
with farmers to ensure that they get the facts about our
plans,'' an AgResearch spokesman said in a statement
Of the 394 ram breeders sent the survey, 92.1% believed the
approximately 60 positions in the sheep genetics and genomics
group (SCG) should be kept at the Invermay campus as opposed
to transferred to Lincoln, with only 1.3% saying the
positions should be moved and 3.8% not responding.
This comes as AgResearch is due to meet farmers in Gore
today, at the Heartland Hotel Croydon at 1.30pm.
The meeting was set up by the Southern Texel Breeders'
Association, which is concerned about AgResearch's plan to
slash jobs at Invermay and transfer them north to Lincoln.
Dr Allison yesterday stood by the quality of the survey.
The fact he pointed survey recipients to information
supporting keeping jobs at Invermay and advised that replying
in favour of keeping scientists at Invermay was in their
''best interests'' did not make the findings invalid, he
''If [AgResearch] think that I can ''lead'' farmers, I guess
that is a compliment but unwarranted.
''Farmers are an independent bunch, not easily led, and
certainly not easily led by the generalised evangelistic
rubbish that is purveyed by the AgResearch management on this
issue,'' he said.
The results constituted a ''near unanimous vote from the
sheep industry that they wish the Invermay group to stay
right where it is, and that the shift to Lincoln has nothing
to commend it''.
It also showed Beef and Lamb and Federated Farmers were not
following the wishes of farmers in choosing to support
''Without the retention of most of the scientific staff in
the SGG, also in the farm systems and the deer programmes,
AgResearch can't honour their commitments made to industry.''
The opinions of sheep breeders were significant because they
had passed on the science gains made by the sheep genetics
and genomics group, which had helped drastically improve the
productivity of the national sheep flock, he said.
Beef and Lamb New Zealand southern South Island director Leon
Black took issue with Mr Allison, saying its stance was out
of touch with farmers.
Beef and Lamb had sought and received assurances from
AgResearch its plan would not undermine beef and lamb
research, which was all it could do.
''We don't run the AgResearch board or their
decision-making,'' Mr Black said.
Federated Farmers vice-president Dr William Rolleston, a
South Canterbury farmer, said he did not believe Dr Allison
was presenting the full picture.
''I think [the restructuring plan] is an opportunity for
AgResearch. In my view, science capability in the
agricultural space is at a low ebb and we need to do
everything we can to start to build it up again,'' Dr
Federated Farmers supported the plan, with a couple of
caveats, that the Otago genetics group was maintained and
deer and sheep research was not compromised.
''We remain in the view that those conditions are being
met,'' he said.