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Science funding just in the nick of time

Science funding just in the nick of time

 

The significant funding boost for science and agricultural research by Government has “come just in the nick of time – but it will generate some interesting challenges in terms of finding the veterinary workforce to support research into pastoral animals,” New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) president John Maclachlan said.

“We certainly strongly welcome news that funding for research in agricultural production and food science is getting a meaningful and ongoing injection,” says Dr Maclachlan.

“We just hope it is in time to rescue declining morale and lost capabilities in the scientific community.”

The massive productivity gains on farms over recent years are largely attributable to work carried out in universities and research institutes over past decades.  Agricultural research often has long lead times before results can be applied and benefits seen.

“We have been coasting on the results of science carried out between 1950 and 1980 when successive governments recognized the fundamental importance of agricultural production to the wellbeing of the country. It’s a pity that the then science infrastructure and institutional knowledge was allowed to deteriorate as far as it has over the past 25 years,” says Dr Maclachlan.

The Veterinary Association has long been urging Government to redirect its focus back on science which has the biggest potential for increasing our GDP i.e. pastoral farming.

“A very large slice of New Zealand’s export earnings come directly from agriculture and the processing of agricultural products. It’s what we do best, and as a nation we must invest in the science to ensure our agricultural production continues to be competitive, efficient and sustainable, as well as adding value to the commodities we produce,” he said.

“This very welcome strong focus on science brings its own problems, however.  Support will necessitate increased input from veterinarians both at the animal welfare and technical research levels, yet the Association is already concerned about the growing shortage of veterinarians in New Zealand, particularly in the rural areas.

“So, while the Association has been looking at ways to encourage more veterinarians to take up work in the rural sector, we will now need to also increase our rural veterinary capability to find veterinary researchers as well.  This is a challenge for Government and the profession alike,” Dr Maclachlan said.

Ends

 

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