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CSIRO must not lose its focus on farmers

31 January 2006

THE release of CSIRO’s direction paper on research investments for 2006/2007 outlines some positive initiatives for the agriculture sector including a commitment of closer collaboration with industries and strategic long-term research partnerships, said the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today.

“NFF welcomes CSIRO’s recognition of the need to forge better links with industry in the implementation of the 2006/2007 investment program and we look forward to the opportunity to work closer with CSIRO on some of these critical areas of research,” NFF President, Mr Peter Corish said.

Other positive initiatives to come out of the report include a greater emphasis on matching agricultural productivity with environmental sustainability, a refocus on agricultural products of higher value, an improved understanding of weather and climate through the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) and enhanced investment in biosecurity.

The strengthened research into natural resource management challenges, with a particular focus on the interaction between productive agricultural systems and the natural environment is also welcomed by NFF.

NFF did however raise concerns about several funding cuts and the consultation undertaken by CSIRO in developing the report.

“NFF is concerned about the funding cuts of five per cent to both the livestock and wool industries. While CSIRO is confident of meeting these funding short falls through additional industry and external funding, the plan does not provide detail on these potential sources,” Mr Corish said.

“It is important that the interest of those sectors facing research cuts are firmly taken into account in some of the broader research themes announced, to ensure these farmers are net beneficiaries of the added research into genomic, value added commodities and production systems.

“NFF is also concerned about CSIRO’s suggestion that industry organisations were consulted in the strategic investment process, neither NFF, or our key commodity members with an interest in wool and livestock, were invited to comment on the strategic directions,” Mr Corish said.

NFF calls on CSIRO to work with affected commodity organisations to ensure that important scientific capability is not lost as a consequence of the new investment process.

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Emma Keogh on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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