Date with AgResearch

The southern delegation fighting plans to downsize Invermay will make its case to a group representing AgResearch's board and management today.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, who is part of the delegation, said the meeting in Dunedin this morning represented the ''first opportunity'' for the regional grouping to make its case to AgResearch against the loss of about 80 jobs at the facility.

AgResearch had previously presented its restructuring plans to representatives of Dunedin City Council, but had declined the opportunity to listen to the delegation's concerns.

''We will essentially be putting to them the view that their proposal is laden with risk, both for the local economy and the national economy.''

Mr Cull was unsure whether today's meeting could make a difference to AgResearch's plans The southern delegation is made up of representatives from the DCC, the Otago Regional Council, Environment Southland, the University of Otago and the private farming sector.

The group representing AgResearch is chairman Sam Robinson, director of shared services and acting chief executive Andrew McSweeney, director of partnerships and programmes Greg Murison and board directors Mike Dunbier and John Loughlin.

An AgResearch spokesman said the group would also be meeting ''a variety of other stakeholders'' while in the region, including former staff and farmers.

''It is incorrect that AgResearch has refused to meet with local leaders or that they have not been offered briefings on the proposal.

''Throughout this process, we have offered briefings to local stakeholders and, up until the staff proposals were delivered, there was very little take-up of these by local councils,'' he said.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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