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Australian government vows to go digital with agri innovation agenda

The Australian government has vowed to embrace digital working in its new agricultural innovation agenda.

The announcement by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was warmly received by the Australian National Farmers’ Federation as “good news” for farmers.

Federation Chief Executive Tony Mahar said: “The NFF and our members have been calling on the government to take a lead role in supporting digital agriculture through the rural innovation system for some time.

“As part of the innovation agenda, Minister Littleproud committed to develop a Digital Agriculture Strategy, a move that delivers directly on one of the NFF’s priorities as outlined in the Get Australia Growing plan for economic recovery following Covid-19.

“Analysis has shown that widespread uptake of digital technologies could add up to $20 billion (£10.9bn) to farmgate output, but to realise this we need the right policy and regulatory settings to support farmers to adopt safe and proven technologies,” Mr Mahar said.

“The NFF has been calling for government to lead the development of a digital strategy for agriculture, with a focus on skills; data policy and regulation; innovation and telecommunications connectivity and adopt-ion.

“We look forward to working with government and other stakeholders on this important initiative, which will complement the work the NFF has already done in developing the Australian Farm Data Code.”

Mr Mahar said innovation had long underpinned productivity and sustainability improvements in Australian agriculture.

“Unlocking further innovation is one of five pillars for growth identified in the NFF’s 2030 Roadmap, a plan for agriculture to achieve $100 billion in farmgate output.

“Australian farmers are innovators by nature and necessity and have a proud history of co-investing in research and development through the rural Research and Development Corporations.

“The rural innovation system has served us well, but it must adapt to changing industry needs,” Mr Mahar said.

“The government’s commitment to develop a National Agricultural Innovation Policy Statement cannot kick the can down the road.

“It is imperative that the statement provides strategic direction, deliver better collaboration and co-investment and address national priorities for R&D.

“Any policy statement must be delivered sooner rather than later and be an important first step in many that are urgently required to maintain agricultural productivity and that will hopefully pave the way for increased investment, collaboration, new approaches, improved accountability and more end-user engagement in the system,” Mr Mahar said.



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