Praise for former Chair as board enters new era

AgResearch’s new Chair Jeff Grant has paid tribute to his predecessor Sam Robinson for an outstanding nine years leading the organisation through some of its biggest ever change.

“Sam has led from the front in advocating for the important science that AgResearch does to support New Zealand’s agriculture, and we have continued to see top quality research coming from the scientists even as funding has been harder to come by,” Mr Grant says.

“Sam has been absolutely committed to seeing through the organisation’s Future Footprint programme, where he’s pushed strongly for investment in new science facilities in conjunction with both Massey and Lincoln universities as the key to continuing to attract top graduates and shaping New Zealand’s pastoral farming sector through good science. It was pleasing to see the final piece to the funding jigsaw for the new Lincoln joint facility confirmed in Sam’s final month as Chair.”

Mr Grant previously held the role of deputy chair, and has taken over as Chair after Mr Robinson stepped down having served out his third consecutive term. Mr Grant has also welcomed three new members to the AgResearch board – Colin Armer, Jackie Lloyd, and Kim Wallace – whose experience, skills and enthusiasm he believes will be of great benefit for AgResearch.

“It is always refreshing to have new ideas and perspectives brought to the table and I know Jackie, Kim and Colin are going to make great contributions.”

Mr Grant says his focus will be continuing to build on AgResearch’s ability to deliver science that is highly relevant to the future of farming.

“I see the organisation as being the lead provider of answers that allow farmers to meet the expectations for producing high quality food in natural and sustainable environments, while also being able to run a viable business. It will be challenging, but as long as the wider farming sector and the Crown understand science has to be funded in order to find the answers, we will get there. We must attract and retain the best scientists and technicians, and we also need to invest in the labs, equipment and technology that allows the science to be done.”

A Southland farmer, Mr Grant’s interest in research started back in 1994 as Chairman of the Meat Research and Development Council. In the last 20 years he has been involved with the funding and establishment of research programmes via industry consortia, such as the Pastoral 21 programme – where AgResearch worked with partners such as DairyNZ, Fonterra and Beef + Lamb New Zealand to boost farm productivity and reduce environmental impacts.