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Funding cuts for farm research disappointing

2 September 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today expressed its disappointment that funding to three of Australia’s major agricultural research and development bodies has been cut.

NFF President Jock Laurie says the cuts, which will see three agricultural Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) – Beef Genetics, Cotton Catchment Communities and Forestry – close as of June 2012, are a blow to rural Australia.

“We appreciate that funding to these three CRCs was never guaranteed, but we are still very disappointed with any reduction in funding to agricultural research and development,” Mr Laurie said.

“At a time of booming world populations and an increased need for sustainable food production, the Government should be taking a long-term view of agriculture and investing heavily in farm related research.

“Commentators have predicted that investment in agricultural research and development needs to be around $80 billion globally in order to assist the industry create new technologies and innovations to improve production and efficiencies to meet this demand.

“Yet domestically, $33 million has been taken away from the CRC budget at a time when the need for investment has never been greater. These cuts make it even more difficult for CRC projects to get funded in what is already a very competitive marketplace.

“Our concern is not just the loss of these three CRCs, but also a loss of jobs in rural and regional communities. Two of the three CRCs already cut are based in regional NSW, resulting in job losses and flow on impacts to the communities of Narrabri and Armidale,” Mr Laurie said.

The CRC program has been reviewed numerous times over recent years and each time has demonstrated its value in terms of significant return on investment and research impact, particularly in helping agricultural industries become more innovative, more collaborative and more highly skilled.

“The NFF is again calling on the Government to develop a long-term strategic view on the role agriculture needs to play, and the importance of agricultural R&D and the CRCs in achieving this,” Mr Laurie said.

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