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Farmers welcome commitment to agricultural R&D

15 June 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Joe Ludwig, that funding to rural research and development will be maintained.

The Minister’s comments come following the release of the final Productivity Commission review of Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) today, which recommended a funding cut for agricultural research.

“The Minister has assured the NFF that he will not be cutting funding to agricultural research and development, and we thank the Minister for this step in acknowledging the importance of R&D to our industry,” NFF President Jock Laurie said.

“At a time when the world’s population continues to grow and the amount of agricultural land available for food production shrinks, the Minister has recognised that R&D will be vital to lifting productivity to meet domestic and global demand and ensuring agriculture is sustainable,” Mr Laurie said.

“The productivity and efficiency of the agricultural industries have grown in leaps and bounds over the past 30 years, thanks to continued investment in our research and development bodies. The RDCs have contributed to better management of Australia’s soils through no-till agriculture and improved carbon storage, improved productivity and better management of pests and diseases.

“To have cut funding to these vital research bodies now would have been a major setback for the agricultural industry and for food security both at home and abroad,” Mr Laurie said.

The Productivity Commission report recommended cutting the matching contributions to the RDCs by 50 percent – a recommendation that that Government confirmed it will not be adopting.

“The decision by the Minister to reject this recommendation ensures certainty for agricultural research at a vitally important time,” Mr Laurie said.

“The NFF is adamant that the Government’s contribution to agricultural R&D is a good investment that has lifted our industry to the forefront of the world’s food and fibre producers.

“We believe a shared vision for food and fibre production by the Australian Government and its agricultural research bodies is required, with Australia striving to be the ‘silicon valley’ of low-carbon and low-input food production. In order to achieve this, we need to ramp up our research investment – and we’re pleased to see that the National Strategic Rural Research and Development Investment Plan recognises the need for a ‘big vision’ for agricultural R&D.

“While we thank the Minister for standing up for agricultural research and development today, we will continue to work with the Government to ensure the full value of R&D is realised,” Mr Laurie said.

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