AgResearch will keep the Invermay research centre open but still plans to shift its animal production unit to Lincoln.
AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson told about 100 farmers at a meeting in Gore yesterday that it would not close or abandon Invermay.
"That is a complete myth and we are not ignoring southern farmers' needs," he said.
However, former AgResearch Invermay scientist Dr George Davis believed downscaling Invermay could result in the complete closure of the centre within five years. "Invermay will be run down to the point of closure, I am almost certain of it," he said.
Dr Richardson said AgResearch aimed to move its animal production unit from Invermay to Lincoln but would retain its farm systems and environmental sustainable research teams, which were important for the southern region, at the Mosgiel-based campus. This meant the number of scientists at Invermay would be reduced from about 70 to 25.
Dr Richardson said AgResearch aimed to create two central hubs - at Palmerston North and Lincoln - which would allow more collaborative and effective research. "This isn't about losing regional science, job cuts or less engagement with farmers," he said.
Former AgResearch Invermay director Jock Allison said more than 90 per cent of sheep farmers he had talked to wanted to keep the animal production unit at Invermay.
- The Timaru Herald