Invermay decision brings questions

Staff at AgResearch's Invermay campus learned their fate last week when it was announced that more than half of them were expected to move north as part of the organisation's $100 million restructuring.

When the changes are complete in 2017, 38 staff will remain at Invermay, up from 26 in the original plan.

The Southern Texel Breeders Association passed a vote of no confidence or faith in the AgResearch board and executive in April.

Chairman Hugh Gardyne said the association did not accept AgResearch's claim it had contacted 150 organisations and 300 individuals, which did not include the Southern Texel Breeders Association and stud sheep groups closely associated with Invermay.

''AgResearch has vigorously promoted the benefits of the hub at Lincoln but, in our opinion, not quantified adequately the adverse effects and loss of value at Invermay,'' Mr Gardyne said.

AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson said achieving the best outcomes for New Zealand was never going to gain the approval of everyone.Tough decisions had to be made ''in the face of some passionate disagreement''.

''We understand and respect the efforts individuals and groups have made - both inside and outside the organisation - to champion the cause of their particular facilities and regions. In many respects, these representations have influenced our thinking and our plans have evolved.''

However, AgResearch's decision was questioned by Beef and Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ), with chairman James Parsons wanting an assurance about sheep and beef research.

''Beef and Lamb New Zealand respects it is the call of the AgResearch leadership as to how it runs its business and where it locates its staff,'' he said.

''However, before being satisfied, BLNZ requires more information that suitable plans and mitigations are in place so our research outcomes are not compromised and science capability is retained.''

BLNZ's concern was echoed by the Otago Regional Council (ORC), which said the changes threatened to take valuable research capability away from Invermay.

ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said he was disappointed with the outcome, which saw the Invermay genetics team moving to Lincoln and a large number of science and technical staff set to move.

Mr Woodhead welcomed the decision to increase staff at the campus from a projected 26 by 2017 to 38, and the proposed relocation of genomics staff from the University of Otago to the campus.