Agricultural Research and Development (R&D) underpins innovation and industry competitiveness. The NFF maintains its support of the current model for rural R&D, co-funded through Government contributions
The exposure of agricultural products to declining terms of trade means continuous improvements in productivity are necessary to keep the sector ahead of its global competitors. Fundamental to advancing productivity, and profitability, is the generation of new knowledge and technology delivered through R&D.
Breakthroughs in agricultural production systems and supply chains can also deliver better quality and more competitively priced food and fibre to consumers.
However, the challenge of making new R&D technologies and mechanisms available to farmers so that these benefits can be enjoyed by all remains. As such, it is critical there are extension transfer services that closely link research outcomes to general agribusinesses and ensure the good R&D work done is utilised by industry.
The majority of rural R&D in Australia is overseen by the Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) that are funded through industry levies matched by government contributions. The RDC model has undergone frequent reviews and inquiries in recent years and the government has questioned whether it should commit to further co-funding.
Consequently, the future of the RDC model is not clear. A solution to ensuring ongoing rural R&D investment could be the introduction of tax incentives for private entities, including primary producers wishing to invest in efficient input use technology such as drones or precision farming.
What industry needs
To spur innovation in agriculture, the NFF supports the following measures:
- Maintain the broad architecture of the rural research and development corporation model, including government contribution matching industry levies.
- Enable regulatory settings such as intellectual property protection and access to technologies for private entities wishing to engage in R&D research.
- Build an attractive investment environment for innovative public-private partnership investments by providing investment and tax incentives.
- Undertake a cross-jurisdictional review of agricultural extension services, investigating how new research can be rolled out to the agricultural industry in general.