Farming blueprint to push for higher R&D funding; agriculture in education

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Increase in RD&E (Research, Development & Engineering) investment to address climate change issues and inclusion of agriculture in the national school curriculum are among the key priorities highlighted in the nation’s first agricultural blueprint, launched in Canberra last Thursday.

Farming blueprint to push for higher R&D funding; agriculture in education
The first Australian Agricultural Blueprint sets out key issues and solutions for the nation's agricultural sector to the year 2020 and beyond

The inaugural document sets out key issues and solutions for the agricultural sector to the year 2020 and beyond.

The document was presented by the National Farmers Federation (NFF) in conjunction with a number of Blueprint partners and identifies seven key areas which underpin the future success of agriculture in Australia.

NFF president Jock Laurie says the Blueprint sets out the steps for the agricultural sector to take to ensure a strong future ahead.

"It has been developed as a result of input from almost 4,000 people across the agricultural sector, who identified the key challenges, opportunities and potential solutions to the issues we face," he says.

"It is an ambitious plan that identifies seven critical areas in which action must happen now to ensure we are well placed in the future: Innovation, Research, Development and Extension; Competitiveness; Trade and Market Access; People; Agriculture in Society; Natural Resources and Transformational Issues."

Among the key priorities highlighted by Blueprint participants, RD&E funding takes one of the top spots.

Laurie says participants have called for better research funding to help improve productivity growth and address issues like the changing climate.

"This is long overdue, with investment in rural R&D stagnating since the mid-1970s," he says.

Inclusion of agriculture in the national school curriculum is also high up on the agenda, which participants hope will help build greater understanding of agriculture and encourage more students to seek careers in the sector.

"And the need to build strong, positive relationships with the wider community is seen as critical, underpinning much of our future success," Laurie says.

Other priorities highlighted in the inaugural document include calls for upgrades in critical infrastructure and a reduction in red tape to maintain the agriculture sector's competitiveness. Completion of key free-trade (FTA) agreements like the Korean FTA is also on the wish list in order to secure market access.

Environmental sustainability is another priority addressed on Thursday.

"Ensuring environmental sustainability is improved, promoted and rewarded right across the sector has emerged as a key opportunity, along with improving preparedness for extreme climatic events like the bushfires and floods we have seen across five Australian states in the past month," Laurie adds.

"And making sure the agricultural sector is well placed to respond to future uncertainties is a key component of the Blueprint, ensuring the sector remains diverse, resilient and adaptive to change."

Full and summarised versions of the report are available for download on the Federation's Blueprint web page. The Blueprint is an initiative of the NFF in conjunction with Westpac, Woolworths and DAFF.

The NFF will be conducting a series of forums this year, with aims to bring the agricultural sector together to drive the Blueprint forward.

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