New Zealand should have the world’s best agricultural science. Our farmers are the most efficient, Fonterra is the leading dairy trader, Federated Farmers sends trade envoys everywhere to testify that agriculture does not have to be a protected industry relying on public subsidies. So when Fed Farmers is concerned at staff cuts in the agricultural science agency, AgResearch, we should be worried.
AgResearch is about to cull about 83 positions in research areas where, it says, “customer demand and the potential to create impact for New Zealand is decreasing”. Customer demand is not something scientists used to have to worry about, but after the economy was exposed to world markets Crown research institutes were obliged to earn their income from industries. Since then, scientists and other research staff have suffered the insecurity and trauma that happens in all organisations in changing markets, and it never gets easier.