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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2009
CA TTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA YEARBOOK 2009 Looking back on how we’ve moved forward an overvieW of the value of agriCultural researCh and development The Australian beef industry has a proud and extended history of innovation through research, development and extension (RD&E) activities. As dedicated industry-agency forums for advancing the strategic RD&E needs of the beef industry, the Northern and Southern Australia Beef Research Councils (NABRC and SABRC) are pleased to reflect on just some of the benefits derived from beef and broadacre agricultural research over the past 50 years. setting the sCene – trends in rd&e expenditure and the value of agriCultural Historical trends in expenditure on agricultural RD&E highlight the significant growth in the level and intensity of investment between 1953 and the late 1970s (Figure 1). This was mainly in response to nation-building policies following the end of WWII and the significant demand for agricultural products to feed and clothe Australia’s growing population. The latter part of this period represented an historical highpoint for RD&E investment in Australia. • Reallocation of consumer spending on services as household incomes have risen; • Declines in the relative price of agricultural commodities; and, • Productivity growth in the agriculture sector, which has facilitated the release of resources to other parts of the economy. Importantly, the declining contribution of agriculture to the Australian economy follows a long history of growth and is consistent with the pattern seen in developed economies worldwide. Australian agriculture’s share of output remains one of the highest in the OECD (PC, 2005) and, testament to the changing nature of the current world economic environment, is actually the only industry sector to achieve double-digit growth in the December 2008 (ABARE, 2009a) and March 2009 quarters (ABARE, 2009b). ABARE (2008) figures indicate Australian agriculture directly accounts for: Figure 1 – Real public investment and research intensity in Australian agriculture (Keogh, 2009) The downward trend in the intensity of agricultural research is consistent with the relative long-term decline in the contribution of agriculture to the Australian economy (Figure 2). The 2005 Productivity Commission Report Trends in Australian Agriculture (PC, 2005) indicates that agriculture’s declining contribution to Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is a culmination of the following medium to long-term patterns: 74 Figure 2 – Relative contribution of agriculture to the Australian economy (Productivity Commission, 2005) • 3% of GDP; • 3.5% of total employment; • 20% of merchandise exports. On a total output basis, the cattle industry has consistently led all other agricultural sectors, contributing ~20% of total output (PC, 2005). Additionally, with the largest geographical footprint of any agricultural sector, the beef industry accounts for up to 14% of employment in inland and remote areas of Australia (ABARE, 2008). 1117_CCA Yearbook 2009.indd 74 5/5/09 8:01:35 PM