Nine VetEnt Tb testers in Canterbury have lost their jobs as AsureQuality Ltd (AQ) has become the sole supplier of Tb testing services for cattle and deer nationwide.

An OSPRI spokesman said they had tendered out the contract and instead of having both VetEnt and AQ provide the service together, opted for AQ alone.

''The outcome is that from March 1 AQ will be the supplier.

''This decision was based on securing the future of OSPRI's Tb testing activities, alongside finding efficiencies for our shareholders' and farmers' investment in the TBfree programme.

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''We understand that AQ plans to work with VetEnt and ensure affected staff are aware of opportunities that might arise as a result of the new testing arrangements.''

VetEnt chief executive officer Richard Bartley said the tender decision was made in December and the announcement made to VetEnt ''was delayed by nearly a month.''

''VetEnt understands the implications of the short notice period that will make the end of contract and transitioning for impacted team members more significant.

''We are disappointed this will impact our excellent team of testers, whose contribution has been incredibly important to our business.

''We are endeavouring to support affected staff as we enter a process of restructuring our testing team.''

On January 18, VetEnt, who carries out a portion of the contract, internally announced the loss of the contract for testing services (bovine and deer) and it will formally end on February 28.

VetEnt has been involved with TBfree New Zealand since it began with a testing contract in the Wairoa region in 2006.

The involvement grew over time to include several regions nationwide, with up to 30 staff involved in testing in either a full-time or part-time role over the length of the contract terms it has held.

VetEnt HR manager Ben Green said they were having discussions with AQ about job prospects for their Tb testers.

''VetEnt still has the core large animal technician team who were not part of the Tb testing contract performing on-farm services including pregnancy tests, blood tests and vaccinations.''

-By Chris Tobin
Central Rural Life