Funding agreements provide certainty for research and development

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture

Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, Parlimentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture

2 June, 2015

Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) now have greater clarity on the Australian Government's expectations for consultation and governance of levy payer and taxpayer funds after funding agreements were finalised with the government.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the final funding agreements would provide a strong basis for valuable investment in R&D projects.

"The RDCs for pork, grains, grape and wine, cotton, fisheries and rural industries now have the certainty to take forward projects to benefit rural industries, economies and communities," Minister Joyce said.

"The government expects value-for-money investments, accountability and transparency in all organisations that spend levy and/or taxpayer funds--and the funding agreements help deliver this expectation with all 15 RDCs now operating under similar rules and with similar accountability.

"Investing in good research and development is the key to Australia's reputation as a world-leader in farm productivity and innovation.

"Funding agreements are a primary mechanism for managing the performance of RDCs and provide the framework for them to demonstrate value for money to levy payers and taxpayers.

"I thank the RDCs for their cooperation in settling the terms of these agreements quickly and efficiently, and well before the 30 June deadline set by the government."

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, said R&D projects in the fisheries sector would also benefit.

"The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation has always provided good research and data, and these agreements put the foundation in place for four years of quality research," Senator Colbeck said.

"Fisheries management and policy is heavily science-based and Australia has some of the best managed fisheries in the world--but we need to continue investing in R&D to maintain our world-leading status."

Minister Joyce said the government had a strong focus on R&D.

"The Australian government provides more than $700 million a year on rural R&D and extension activities," Minister Joyce said.

"This is provided through the government's matching R&D funds to agricultural industry levies worth on average $250 million per annum, as well as through R&D funding to universities, Cooperative Research Centres, the CSIRO and other research institutions. The model of government matching industry levies for R&D is recognised as a key strength of Australia's agricultural R&D system.

"We know how critical R&D is to productive and profitable industries--ABARES estimates a $12 return for industry from every $1 invested in rural R&D.

"That's why we want to keep investing in research--like we're doing in the $100 million Rural R&D for Profit programme, under which we've just announced the first round of successful projects that encourage innovative research partnerships. The second round is expected to commence shortly.

"We are some of the most resourceful, resilient and productive primary producers on the planet, but we need to keep investing in R&D to make sure we stay that way."

For more information about the government's agricultural R&D programmes, see: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/innovation

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