Agriculture has had a lot coming at it over the past 18 months. Drought, bushfires, floods, global trade wars and now economic disruption due to coronavirus.
It has severely impacted cash flows and productive capacity of many areas of agriculture.
Governments have been struggling to come to grips with the breadth of the economic impact of these challenges and I fear one such impact has passed them by.
Agricultural research in Australia is an important part of the resilience equation when it comes to agriculture and the challenges it faces.
With the downturn in the quantum amount of agricultural output, comes a serious decline in the yield of statutory taxes collected by the levies that fund a considerable part of our research effort.
Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) keep prudent reserves to account for lumpy income so contractual arrangements can be honoured, however, the depth and breadth of the challenges to agriculture will see these reserves severely tested.
As the human capital for conducting research is so valuable and hard to replace, I would encourage governments to be aware of the potential long-term damage to agriculture and the 2030 $100 billion target that any interruption to research will have.
RDCs play an integral role in farming innovation and could spell the difference between success and failure in the ability of commodities to adapt to new challenges.
With conditions changing so rapidly in the farming world, like the sudden onset of heavy rain in some parts of NSW after cripplingly long periods of dry, farmers need to have access to the latest research to improve their resilience against setbacks.
It's the wealth of the knowledge and innovation that RDCs provide that will help secure a vibrant future for agriculture, so it is vital to also protect the future of the RDCs.