RIRDC’s response to the 2014 Budget 14 May 2014

The Board of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has welcomed the Government’s on-going commitment to rural research and confirmation of an additional $100 million for R&D over the next four years.

RIRDC will receive a $2 million cut to its core funding in 2014-15, with further cuts foreshadowed – this will result in a reduction of $11 million over four years in base funding. 

As a statutory body it is not surprising that RIRDC has been required to ‘share the pain’ in a tight fiscal environment. However, RIRDC’s modest level of government funding is focused on genuine public good R&D that is an investment in the future of rural industries and their communities.

Over several years RIRDC has been responsibly and prudently cutting costs wherever possible in order to maximise the proportion of RIRDC funds allocated to direct R&D.

The cuts announced in the budget will require a reduction in staffing which ultimately impacts on the level of engagement and services that can be provided to RIRDC’s stakeholders. The number of RIRDC staff to be impacted by this reduction has not been determined and will be decided within the next couple of weeks.

RIRDC will ensure that the impact of the cuts does not diminish the value and quality of individual projects. RIRDC will remain focused on delivering demand driven R&D to build productive capacity and innovation in the industries it serves.

The RIRDC Board has been a strong supporter of RIRDC’s role in working with partners in the development of a bid for a new Northern Australia agriculture CRC – the agNorth bid. The RIRDC Board remains hopeful that this important initiative remains a government priority and comes to fruition.

Over the coming weeks, RIRDC will be advising those of its portfolio industries whose R&D projects will be impacted by this decision.

The budget reduction will impact principally on RIRDC’s cross-cutting projects that address broader rural issues and those programs that address the needs of small industries. RIRDC’s larger levy paying industry programs, such as rice, chicken meat, pasture seeds and honeybee R&D, will not be affected directly by the budget decision.

The immediate challenge for the Corporation is to focus on maximising the benefits to rural Australia from RIRDC’s broad portfolio of research aimed at assisting rural industries to be productive, profitable and sustainable.

Following a special meeting of the RIRDC Board today in Canberra the Chair of RIRDC, Prof Daniela Stehlik expressed her support for the RIRDC staff impacted by the cuts.  

Prof Stehlik said it is important now to focus on assembling strong proposals for funding under the competitive grants program that will drive the allocation of the additional $100 million for rural R&D.

Media contact: Damon Whittock, RIRDC Communications and Public Affairs Manager, ph. 02 6271 4175, mb. 0458 215 604.