25 Jul 2014

Fears many AgResearch staff leaving

1:18 pm on 25 July 2014

The Labour Party fears AgResearch may have lost close to a fifth of its workforce since announcing its controversial Future Footprint restructuring plans and says sheep farmers in particular are furious.

Labour MP for Dunedin North David Clark said it was tragic that after carrying out so much vital science for the agricultural sector, AgResearch was now haemorrhaging staff.

"That's the tragic thing - staff are leaving the organisation, the mood is sour. Farmers ought to be incredibly angry about this and the feedback I'm getting is that across the sheep sector many are irate."

Mr Clark said it was impossible to know exactly what percentage of staff at AgResearch had left - but he believed it was above 10 percent and could be as high as 20 percent.

AgResearch disputes the 20 percent figure, saying staff turnover is about 7 percent.

"AgResearch is not being transparent about what's going on, but farmers know good and well exactly what's going on. They see the scientists that they deal with leaving the organisation, down at the mouth, and not really seeing any prospect of doing the science that they know contributes so much to New Zealand's export sector," said Mr Clark.

AgResearch's Invermay facility near Dunedin.

AgResearch's Future Footprint programme will shift about 150 scientists and 100 administration jobs, mainly from the Hamilton and Invermay campuses, to two new science hubs in Lincoln and Palmerston North. Photo: RNZ