Peter Macdougall, pictured at the AgResearch meeting at the
Croydon Hotel in Gore on Wednesday, believes sheep and deer
farmers should band together and buy Invermay. Photo by
A suggestion that a company, involving various
stakeholders, be formed to buy Invermay has been described as a
''nice idea in theory'' but one that would probably not work in
Millers Flat farmer Peter Macdougall told the Otago Daily
Times this week the Otago Regional Council, Environment
Southland, the Dunedin City Council, University of Otago and
sheep and deer farmers should band together and buy the
After having attended a meeting in Gore on Wednesday to
discuss AgResearch's restructuring plans, Mr Macdougall said
he believed the decision to slash the number of scientists at
Invermay had already been made.
He believed the ''best solution'' for Otago and Southland was
for the proposed shift of staff to Lincoln to be put on hold
and a company formed.
''Go right outside the square ... turn the whole thing on its
head and let's move forward to 2025,'' he said.
The new company could still apply to AgResearch for funding
and it could do other research projects for the benefit of
Otago-Southland, along with the likes of Alliance Group,
Silver Fern Farms and AbacusBio, he said.
AgResearch would not do any research unless it got a
commercial return - ''they are not into industry-good stuff''
- but a new company would be looking at science for the
Contracted work could be sourced from the likes of fertiliser
companies and the meat and dairy industries.
Invermay had a ''world standing'' in research and science,
while Lincoln was ''just a university'', he said.
Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said when
contacted he did not think Mr Macdougall's suggestion was a
It was not local government's role to operate industry-good
research, of the type of the ''AgResearchs of this world''.
That was the role of crown research institutes.
From a local government perspective, it was more efficient
for the regional council to contract specialist advice when
it was needed.
Invermay should remain operating as an AgResearch campus for
the benefit of the wider New Zealand agricultural industry,
Mr Woodhead said.
He believed AgResearch's business case made it clear the
model of four hubs, which all had links to universities,
should be the perfect model.
Invermay had modern infrastructure, including the
underutilised Christie Building, he said.
Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said she thought
it would be very difficult for a regional council to fund a
facility such as Invermay long term, as both science needs
and budgets changed over time.
Using Invermay as a contractor was probably ''a much better
solution'', Ms Timms said.
''It could be a nice idea in theory. I don't think it would
work in practice,'' she said. Much good information came from
both AgResearch and others attending the meeting, along with
good discussion, Ms Timms said.
She hoped Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce would
act on a resolution approved at the Gore meeting asking him
to hold an independent inquiry into AgResearch's plan.
She welcomed the ''free and frank'' discussion at the meeting
but was sorry it had taken so long for AgResearch to ''front
up'' to the sector.
Responding to Mr Macdougall's suggestion, another industry
professional quipped that whoever could get agreement between
all the suggested parties ''should get a knighthood''.
While it was a nice idea, he said it would take a ''pretty
impressive effort'' to get all those disparate groups
''across the line and get it functioning in the way it needs
Former Invermay director Jock Allison, who has been outspoken
in his criticism of AgResearch's restructuring, said part of
it would happen, if sheep and deer research was shifted to
Lincoln. He had much sympathy for Mr Macdougall's view, Dr