Southern leaders say they expect to meet AgResearch next week to put a case for reversing 85 planned job cuts from its Invermay centre in Dunedin.
The development was revealed after a meeting about the proposal between two council leaders and the Minister of Finance, Bill English on Friday afternoon.
It's the first major step since a summit of 50 Otago and Southland leaders three weeks ago vowed to fight the changes.
Dunedin mayor Dave Cull says they have alerted AgResearch and Government ministers that the case is nearly complete, and hope to put it to AgResearch within the next week.
Mr Cull says the case will show the regional and national economic implications of AgResearch's planned job cuts.
Mr English says southern leaders deserve better answers from AgResearch about its plans.
He says he suggested the councils might want to check out what the farming groups who use AgResearch's science are saying about the changes.