Best outcome for deer industry

Retaining Invermay's deer farm and research capability is the best possible outcome, industry leaders say.

New Zealand Deer Farmers' Association chairman Kris Orange, of Geraldine, said the industry ''couldn't ask for a better outcome'' than the plan to retain the 900-strong deer herd at Invermay and its associated research capability.

AgResearch announced yesterday as part of the next phase of its Future Footprint plans that Invermay's three deer scientists would be retained at the campus. An additional scientist would also be added to the team.

''There's some fantastic staff down there and we always ran the risk that if they were asked to shift, [some] wouldn't go,'' Mr Orange said.

The decision gave the staff ''some stability'' and would help to continue ''the good work AgResearch has been doing''.

''We would struggle to find a better outcome than that,'' he said.

AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson said the Invermay farm was retained to ''help secure its future as a world-class science facility''.

''The changes we have made to the plan will enhance that role,'' Dr Richardson said.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) deputy chairman Jeremy Bell, of Wanaka, said he was pleased with the changes to the AgResearch's plans and it was a good outcome for Invermay and the deer industry.

''While we accepted the strategic rationale for Future Footprint, we have been concerned throughout that such strategic change can be very disruptive and can contribute to a loss of important people,'' he said.

DINZ believed the plans stuck a balance between expanding hubs at Lincoln and Grasslands while keeping farms systems scientists at Invermay, he said.

''AgResearch gave a commitment from day one to the provision of on-farm deer research and we are very pleased that they have chosen to retain the Invermay farm for this purpose,'' he said.

''It is a wonderful facility and will, of course, be handily located for the deer farm systems team.''

The outcome reflected the level of communication between DINZ and AgResearch.

''We have been engaging with them quietly and ensuring we have been heard,'' he said.

DINZ was aware of farmers' concerns but had preferred one-on-one discussions with AgResearch, rather than public debate, he said.

''We feel that we have had a good engagement with AgResearch throughout its consultation process and that we've had effective discussions.''

It was not his place to comment on the relocation of other staff from Invermay, although it was ''obviously quite a sensitive time for staff'', he said.

DINZ would continue to communicate with AgResearch about the plans in the coming weeks. Dr Richardson said AgResearch remained ''responsive to new opportunities which may further influence our future plans''.



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