AgResearch job cuts show Govt failing agricultural science sector

The Green Party is calling on the Government to increase core agricultural science funding in light of potential mass layoffs at AgResearch, the Government’s largest Crown Research Institute.

“We cannot have a high-performing agricultural economy if the essential natural science that underpins farming success is underfunded and the scientists are losing their jobs,” said Green Party primary industries spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The latest round of up to 90 redundancies at AgResearch is part of a disturbing trend. Since 2010, 71 science and technician jobs and 90 non-science jobs have been axed at AgResearch, according to information provided to a Parliamentary Select Committee.

“AgResearch’s chairperson and chief executive are on the record saying how disappointing it has been to lose out on Government funding through the contestable funding processes – well now it looks like the outcome of the Government’s decisions is that more scientists will be losing their jobs.

“National has lost touch with what the farming sector needs, which is evidence-based natural science to increase its success and reduce its environmental impacts.

“The Government’s contestable funding rounds are too focussed on the commercialisation of technology and technology transfer. AgResearch needs more secure core funding so it can focus on important natural science that helps us better understand the natural systems that our agricultural economy depends on.

“We’ll never be able to build a sustainable agricultural economy based on value not volume if the Government continues to underfund core science, causing our top scientists to lose their jobs.

“We need a balanced approach to science funding that supports the vital building blocks of our agricultural economy and promotes environmental and economically sustainable farming, as well as the high tech sector,” Ms Sage said.