Organisers of a sheep breeders' meeting on possible
downsizing of Invermay research facility say AgResearch
management must seriously consider the message from the
AgResearch staff were told at the Gore meeting that to move
Invermay scientists and research capabilities to a facility
in Lincoln would be a damaging blow to the sheep and deer
industries in Southland and Otago.
The meeting organiser, genetics manager at Mt Linton Station
Hamish Bielski, said there had to be a chance AgResearch
could change its decision on the move.
If the downsizing went ahead it could threaten New Zealand's
aim to double the size of the agricultural economy by 2025,
Mr Bielski said he was sure AgResearch staff went away from
the meeting ''shaken up''.
''Basically they could not answer any of the questions with
any substance. It was blatantly obvious how bad the move of
Invermay to Lincoln would be.''
It seemed to him there were other agendas behind the move.
Mr Bielski said key points to focus on regarding the
viability of the move were two made by Berl director Kel
Sanderson. They were that research should not be moved from
Invermay because science was best applied in the field when
it was close to where it was being used, and that the
attraction of scientists to a campus was more successful when
that campus had ''rock star'' scientists.
The move of Invermay away from Otago would mean a loss in
proximity of research and cause top scientists to leave
AgResearch, he said.
Southern Texel Breeders chairman and meeting organiser Hugh
Gardyne said the executive of the Southern Texel Breeders
would decide what action to take regarding a vote of no
confidence in the AgResearch board.
At the meeting in Gore, the motion was left on the table, but
would be reconsidered, he said.
Dialogue with economic development minister Steven Joyce and
finance minister Bill English would continue.
Mr Gardyne said the executive would gather counterarguments
to the proposals and present them to the ministers, including
presentations by Berl director Kel Sanderson and former
AgResearch scientist George Davis.
Mr Gardyne said he believed the AgResearch charter said it
had to demonstrate social responsibility, but by not
listening to the people opposed to the move, it was not doing
that, he said.
When asked if he thought there was a chance action opposing
the AgResearch plans to move staffing and science from
Invermay, Mr Gardyne said there was always hope, otherwise
the group would not be taking action.
AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson said the Gore
meeting was constructive, and a good opportunity to discuss
plans with farmers.
The plans would allow AgResearch to deliver better science,
more effectively, to New Zealand farmers, the pastoral sector
and the New Zealand economy.
''We remain committed to find the best solution to continue
to deliver the science all New Zealand farmers rely on to
stay ahead of their international counterparts,'' Dr
Dunedin North Labour MP Dr David Clark said the petition to
save Invermay, which he initiated, was approaching 4000
A final date for the petition had not been decided yet.
Dr Clark said it was also becoming clearer senior science
staff were not prepared to shift from Invermay to Lincoln, a
factor identified by AgResearch as a major risk. There was a
real risk this would have an adverse effect on attempts to
double the agricultural economy by 2025.
- Leith Huffadine.