Nieuws - 23 september 2010

‘Dairy research should stay in Lelystad’

The employees’ council of the Animal Sciences Group rejects the concentration of the experimental dairy farms in Leeuwarden. But the ASG management sticks to its vision of a Dairy Campus in Leeuwarden.

On a related issue, the ASG employees' council (OR) advises keeping the Spelderholt poultry farm in Lelystad open until 2015. The Spelderholt's new building has only been up six years. Even though the company is running at a loss, the OR considers a minimal depreciation period of ten years reasonable and only wants to decide on the future of the farm in 2014. ASG Management team member Dick Pouwels regrets the failure of the management and the OR to arrive at a joint vision of the future of the experimental centres.

The ASG wants to concentrate dairy research at the Nij Bosma Zathe centre near Leeuwarden and close down the experimental farms in Lelystad, Heino, Zegveld and Cranendonk. The province of Friesland has allocated an investment budget of twenty million euros to this new Dairy Campus.
When it comes to the experimental pig farms in Sterksel, however, the parties have reached agreement. The OR recognizes that regional experimental centres have had their day, but thinks the concentration should be in Lelystad. The OR wants the management to open fresh negotiations with the province of Friesland. Its members believe, for example, that Nij Bosma Zathe could be converted into a centre for high-risk practical innovations.

Accommodation costs
The management and the OR also differ on the financial basis of the experimental centres. According to the management, many experimental farms run at a loss, something the OR blames on excessive accommodation costs. 'Experimental centres are often started up as research projects', says Henk Stormink of the OR. 'Now the management take over the building and imposes rent and running costs on the centre. We cannot reach agreement with the management on this.'
The two parties held renewed consultations on the experimental centres on 17 September, but could not agree, said Stormink.

The management now wants to start implementing its Experimental Centres Masterplan. The masterplan has been discussed thoroughly with the livestock sector and has the support of farmer organizations, claims the management in a press release of 21 September. The management rejects the OR's proposal to keep the Waiboerhoeve in Lelystad open longer alongside the innovative dairy campus. 'Keeping two research facilities running in parallel is too risky for healthy business operations', runs the argument. The proposal to keep Spelderholt open longer will lead to losses too, says the management. The ASG is now looking into the scope for merging Spelderholt with Schothorst Feed Research, the research institute of the animal feeds supplier in Lelystad.