Last Updated: August 21, 2014

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Politics

Research funding cut in Budget earns widespread criticism despite Commonwealth’s R&D backing

MASSIVE cuts to Co-operative Research centres and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation funding are at odds with the Commonwealth’s commitment to research, industry leaders say.

The Federal Government was praised for keeping its $100 million boost to agricultural research and development in last week’s budget but it comes at the cost finding for other research and scientific agencies.

CRCs will lose $80 million, with cuts of $146.8 million from the CSIRO’s budget to include 500 jobs.

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation will lose 15 per cent of its funding over the next four years which will put at risk jobs and programs such as the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award.

National Farmers’ Federation president Brent Finlay said the benefits from agricultural research and development to rural communities were enormous but was “disappointed” with the major cuts to the RIRDC and CRC programs.

CRC Association chief executive Tony Peacock said he was “bitterly disappointed” and said while current centres funding would not be affected the following two years but the extent is not yet clear.

“I hoped we had done enough to show the government the value of the CRCs and I do believe they understand its value,” he said.

Agricultural CRCs include work in sheep industry innovation, dairy and future farm industries, invasive animals, Australian pork and seafood and plant biosecurity and poultry.

Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe (pictured) said he had confirmation his CRC’s research would continue, including a new round of funding, taking programs up to 2019.

“We are at a very advanced stage with our planning so would have been terribly upset if we were cut off at this stage,” he said.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce acknowledged cuts “shared across the board” were disappointing but said his government was committed to R & D funding which boosted productivity, competitiveness and an improved return at the farm gate.

Labor’s Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon welcomed the commitment to research and development but said the other cut showed “no vision to build sustainable and competitive agriculture industries”.

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