Scepticism at AgResearch offer to consult ram breeders

Hugh Gardyne.
Hugh Gardyne.
A leading sheep breeder says an AgResearch offer of further consultation on its restructuring plan has come too late.

In an AgResearch letter obtained by the Otago Daily Times, the organisation said it was looking for more ''face to face opportunities with commercial ram breeders'' to discuss its Future Footprint Programme, answer questions and ''listen to concerns''.

The letter was sent in response to a remit passed at last month's Beef and Lamb New Zealand's annual meeting calling on AgResearch to ''extend its level of consultation'' and ''consult with commercial ram breeders in the North and South Island''.

The letter, from shared services business support manager Suzie Valentine, goes on to say: ''We have had a number of face to face meetings with farmers in the south of the South Island and would like the opportunity to broaden the geographic spread of farmers we speak to.''

Southern Texel Breeders Association president Hugh Gardyne said while the letter was welcome, consultation with breeders had been lacking since AgResearch announced restructuring.

''We welcome consultation, but quite frankly where have they been for the last 12 months?

''Had we not organised the meeting in Gore, which they can take no credit for other than turning up, there wouldn't have been any endeavour from AgResearch.''

Dunedin North Labour MP David Clark said if AgResearch was ''serious'' about consultation, it would have got in touch with breeders earlier and have the project ''on hold'' until feedback was received.

Instead, AgResearch was moving ahead with its plan, Dr Clark said.

''It really does appear that they are speaking out of both sides of their mouths.''

AgResearch did not respond to questions by deadline yesterday.

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