24 September 2015
Federated Farmers disappointed with AgResearch redundancies
Further job cuts at AgResearch back up Federated Farmers concern that science capability in agriculture continues to be
eroded through inadequate funding and a lack of strategic planning.
“Agriculture science is a long term investment which is difficult for governments on a short term three year election
cycle, but we owe it to our future farmers, and all New Zealanders, to make the investments now, develop our capability
and build the basic sciences which provide the necessary grunt to ensure commercialisation of innovation is optimised,”
says Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston.
“We appreciate that AgResearch needs to ensure its capacity aligns with the work it has ahead of it, but the continual
downsizing at AgResearch is a symptom of this bigger problem.”
Dr Rolleston says New Zealand is well known for its leadership in agriculture, which continues to be a significant
player in the economy and our biggest export earner.
“We need science to continue to provide the solutions for tomorrow through increased productivity, reduced environmental
impact, new products and added value for our current products. We also rely on science to address the risks we face with
a changing climate, biosecurity, the market and our social licence to operate.”
Federated Farmers believes that agricultural science capability is at a low ebb in New Zealand and that there is a lack
of coordinated strategic planning in place.
“We need a plan which will rebuild our science capability and give more responsibility to our CRIs as outlined in the
CRI Taskforce Report (2010). The taskforce recommended core funding for CRIs and more decision making at the institution
level. While this has happened, the development of the National Science Challenges has tied up a significant proportion
of core funding and makes governance responsibility unclear. ”
Government have the opportunity to turn the tide with outcome of the core funding review where we would expect to see an
increase in core funding which has not been inflation adjusted since it was instituted.
Federated Farmers doesn’t believe AgResearch is blameless in this situation.
“They need to examine their tactics and their effectiveness in attracting new funds both from government and the private
sector,” Dr Rolleston says.
“We would like to see a growing agricultural science sector which is moving forward with confidence, not a shrinking one
where scientists are disillusioned and our youth discouraged from science careers.”
Federated Farmers hope that the National Statement of Scientific Intent which the government is soon to release will
reflect the importance of science in agriculture.
“We’re hoping to see more attention to basic research and capability, greater stability and certainty for scientists in
the primary sector within an ecosystem where a science career can be rewarding and valued,” says Dr Rolleston.