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The Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, has announced the creation of an advisory body to provide options on reform opportunities for Australia’s agricultural R&D system by early next year.

An accompanying discussion paper has been published calling for ideas to modernise Australia’s Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), in order to support farming innovation and the Commonwealth Government’s target of growing agricultural production to $100 billion by 2030.

The Minister acknowledges that RDCs have been instrumental in underpinning the profitability and productivity of Australia’s agricultural industries for many decades and that public–private co-investments made through RDCs are integral to the future of the system.

She also believes there are opportunities for Australian agriculture to increase its competitive advantages by addressing complex cross-industry challenges and working across value chains.

Dairy Australia Managing Director, David Nation, said: “Dairy Australia fully supports the objectives of this review of agricultural R&D and the Minister’s vision of the role that science and technology and skilled labour can play in boosting the economic contribution of agriculture and keeping it internationally competitive.

“I’m pleased that some of the topics identified in the Minister’s discussion paper are already being addressed by the dairy sector through the Australian Dairy Plan, notably representation and advocacy. However, I am excited by the potential to continue to evolve the role of RDCs to be more effective and to address the most important issues facing the dairy industry. This includes new ways to collaborate across industries and the world, and also to widen the range of investors to partner in research and development activities."

Senator McKenzie also comments: “The research and development system should be ready to support the next wave of innovation that will help our farmers stay at the forefront of agriculture internationally. We need to better support our farmers to do what they do best, today and into the future. We need to recognise a step-change in the rate of technological advancements, not just in the agricultural sector but across the economy. That is why we must make sure our agricultural innovation system is future ready.”

The discussion paper focuses on opportunities to reform the current system of RDCs that will:

  • deliver value for money for levy payers and the taxpayers who fund the RDC system
  • drive collaboration and participation across the agricultural innovation system, with a focus on better cooperation and improved adoption of R&D 
  • target long-term cross-sectoral and transformative R&D
  • improve levy-payer representation and advocacy.

The discussion paper ‘Modernising the Research and Development Corporation system’ is available online and submissions are invited before 4 November 2019 https://haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/modernising-rdc.

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