The National Farmers’ Federation has a goal for Australia to be a top 20 nation for innovation efficiency and say the Government’s announcement today to re-focus agriculture’s research and development system is encouraging.
“Australian farmers contribute $500 million annually to a unique farmer-government R&D levy partnership that has delivered game-changing innovations for our sector,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
“However in the past decade, agriculture’s innovation pipeline has waned, hampered by inefficiencies, duplication and an outdated way of operating. Urgent action is needed to ensure our farmers can keep pace with their world-leading counterparts.”
Mr Mahar said key to this was a more flexible and contemporary approach to the investment of public monies and the leveraging of private-public partnerships.
“The NFF and our members are focused on ensuring levies are invested in the most efficient and effective way possible.
“To guarantee Australia’s rural R&D system is future-ready and fit-for-purpose there must be better collaboration between the 15 rural research and development corporations.
“Too often RDCs operate in silos undertaking research on issues in isolation, that are common across industry. This has resulted in inefficiencies and duplication.
Mr Mahar acknowledged Minister Littleproud’s establishment today of Agricultural Innovation Australia as a single entity to invest in, and lead research strategies that address challenges and opportunities shared by multiple sectors.
“The NFF’s target for Australian farm gate output to tally $100 billion by 2030, includes a clear goal for the investment Australian farmers make through levies to be quickly turned into accessible tools and services.
“Australian farmers must have access to cutting-edge technology and science to carve out a competitive edge on the world stage.
“Critically important is the focus AIA is intended to have on connecting the research fraternity with the commerical sector.
“Private investment to complement public investment and new thinking will be key to unlocking the innovations needed to propel farm gate output.”
Mr Mahar warned against further waste.
“It’s imperative this new entity delivers for Australian farmers and does not waste levies on yet another layer of expensive administration and bureaucracy. It must be lean and results driven. It must have clear KPIs and its leadership must be held accountable to these goals.”
He said for AIA to succeed, consultation between the RDC network and industry must be ongoing.
“The NFF brought together an innovation coalition consisting of farm representative bodies and RDCs. It’s our hope that the constructive collaboration of this group will continue.
“We really do need a bona fide team effort if the sector is to reach $100 billion by 2030.
“Indeed, the NFF as the peak farm representative body, expects to be closely consulted on the appointment of the AIA Board.
“We welcome the Government’s $1.3 million investment to kick-start AIA’s strategies.”