R&D to play key role in growing ag revenue

Ag2030 success reliant on strong R&D sector

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FOR the second time in less than a month, we have a government unveiling its big plan to grow the value of the local agriculture sector.

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FOR the second time in less than a month, we have a government unveiling its big plan to grow the value of the local agriculture sector.

This time, it's the federal government's turn, detailing its vision for how to boost industry turnover to $100 billion in the next decade.

The Ag2030 plan is divided into seven key priority areas, and references recent policy announcements and budget measures the government says will be instrumental in helping the sector reach the target.

The goal to reach $100b by 2030 matches the ambitious target set by the National Farmers' Federation two years ago.

It's great to see the government acknowledge and embrace agriculture's ambition to grow, but if the value of Australia's ag sector has sat at about $61b since 2017-18, how do we achieve a value increase of more than 60 per cent in just 10 years?

Related reading:Govt releases plan to push ag to $100b within a decade

The lack of growth in recent years has largely been put down to uncontrollable events such as drought, and while a run of good seasons across the country might help send this national value higher, we can't rely entirely on Mother Nature's help, as we've all seen how fickle she can be, and we all know how rare it is to have a kind season from the west coast to the east.

Making things even harder to control is that the value of our biggest ag commodities fluctuates so much based on what is happening on the other side of the world. And as we've seen recently, ag can often bear the brunt of rising political tensions. Barley and certain beef processors have already been hit with tariffs or bans. What would we do if wool was the next target?

Research can play a crucial role in agriculture's future success. The next groundbreaking discovery could be just around the corner, as long as research institutions and programs are sufficiently funded and resourced to conduct this important work.

Extension will also be critical, as research findings will never have their full impact unless this information is passed on to those on the ground.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says funding has been allocated in the budget to help the ag research and development corporations avoid duplication and improve cooperation.

This stands to be a positive move, as long as efforts to improve cooperation and avoid duplication don't translate into consolidation or cuts within the research sector.

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