AgResearch has confirmed it will axe nearly 20 percent of its staff during the next year.
The Crown research institute has confirmed it plans to axe 33 scientists and 50 technicians, as part of a restructuring to cope with a $5 million cut in funding.
However, it will add 18 new scientist roles and nine technicians in growth areas, for a net loss of 56 jobs.
AgResearch chair Sam Robinson told Checkpoint the cuts were in areas with less demand for research.
"Roughly the four that we're reducing in is greenhouse gas research, reducing in forage science, reducing in on-farm technical support, and that's because less research is done directly on farms these days, and finally reductions in animal science," he said.
Mr Robinson said staff were being consulted about the changes, which he acknowledged would be difficult for people.
He said a final decision on numbers would be made at the end of October.
Labour Party economic development spokesperson David Clark said the industry was under threat, and the government needed to step in to stop job cuts.
"Steven Joyce needs to step in and stop this shambolic cycle of restructures. He needs to sack the board and start again.
"Over the last three years they have shed dozens of scientists. They are going offshore, they are taking New Zealand's potential export earnings with them."