'Terrific' response from deer farmers over Invermay

Former Invermay director Jock Allison says there has been a ''terrific'' response from deer farmers after a call for them to support the retention of Invermay's deer research programme.

A letter was sent to farmers from Dr Allison, former deer programme leader Dr Ken Drew and Prof Frank Griffin from the University of Otago, asking farmers to indicate whether they preferred the programme to be located at Invermay or Lincoln, and to express their opinions to politicians.

AgResearch is proposing to centralise its operations in Lincoln and Palmerston North, jobs at Invermay dropping from 115 to 30 and 180 jobs going from Ruakura, near Hamilton.

''They [deer farmers] are very concerned and virtually unanimous they want everything left at Invermay,'' Dr Allison said.

A letter has also been sent to sheep farmers from Dr Allison, former Invermay scientist Dr George Davis, John Smart, from Clutha Vets, who is also president of the International Sheep Veterinary Association, and Prof Ken McNatty, former leader of the AgResearch Wallaceville reproduction group.

In the letter, they said a shift of scientific and technical staff from Invermay to Lincoln would result in.-The serious compromising of AgResearch's ability to contribute to industry-related programmes.

The destruction of productive research collaborations between AgResearch and the University of Otago. AgResearch and the Government spent $2 million five years ago to establish the Chair in Reproduction and Genomics and established the centre of the same name within the $17 million Christie building.

The destruction of AgResearch/industry co-operation in genomic testing and associated services to flocks and herds.

A significant loss in scientific output and financial income for AgResearch itself - industry funding might well stay with staff who did not shift to Lincoln, reformed in another entity.

The eventual closing of Invermay as the 30 staff positions would not be enough to justify the overhead costs, meaning the campus might be sold.

The service to the sheep industry would therefore be much diminished.

The trio sought support from sheep farmers for the retention of and expansion of the sheep research group.

Dr Allison also intended writing to Economic Development Steven Joyce, outlining his concerns.

A final decision on AgResearch's structure will be made on September 26, after consultation with staff.

 

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