AgForce 30/30 campaign: Issue 15 – R&D investment

Beef Central, 06/08/2013

A continued stall in public investment in agricultural research, development and extension has impacted heavily on primary production outputs and profitability and will continue to disadvantage industry without allocation of further funds.

Identified as one of the most important issues facing the rural sector under AgForce Queensland’s ’30 Issues, 30 Days’ campaign, the impact of this diminished R&D investment since the 1970s has been reflected in reduced productivity growth.

For example Australian Government research has shown that, using 1993-94 as the turning point, annual productivity between1952-53 and 1993-94 was estimated to be around 2.2 per cent.  Between 1993-94 and 2006-07 this had fallen to just 0.4pc.  Meanwhile, agricultural research intensity, measured as the ratio of agricultural R&D to the gross value of agricultural production has also declined from a high of five per cent in the late 1970s to three per cent in recent years.

AgForce Grains President, Wayne Newton, said adoption of targeted R&D was critical to the long-term viability of the rural sector.

“Research and development is the way that the industry has been able to become more and more efficient over recent years and more productive,” Mr Newton said.

“What we’ve seen over a prolonged period of time in Australia is a steady cut back in real terms of expenditure in the R&D space and that’s been largely brought about by other budgetary pressures and the longer time period over which R&D benefits are realised.

“The State and Federal Governments haven’t seen the priority of constantly maintaining this expenditure and that’s unfortunate.”

Specifically, AgForce Queensland is calling for:

  • Greater private and public investment in R&D via:
  • Tax incentives for private R&D investment on-farm and within the supply chain (eg 150pc tax deductibility);
  • Reduced red tape pertaining to overseas agribusinesses investing in research and product development in Australia;
  • Lift in public funding of agricultural R&D to meet current and future challenges, such as profitably delivering sustainable food and fibre production.

Central Queensland beef producer, Ian McCamley, said technologies like real-time satellite surveillance, if available to producers, could revolutionise the efficiency of cattle production.

“For example, if we could get broad bandwidth for our internet and have something close to real-time satellite surveillance then we could have programs looking over our operations and measuring and monitoring what we do,” Mr McCamley said.

“This would guide us to make better management decisions and if this can then lead to lifts of 10, 20 or 30pc in production for a relatively low cost then that is a great improvement.”

AgForce is highlighting 30 issues of critical importance to agriculture in 30 days – click here to learn more


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