The Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations meets twice a year, usually in March and September. The most recent meeting was held on Monday 6 March 2017.

Council Chair

Council unanimously elected MLA Chair Dr Michele Allan to be Chair of the Council of Rural RDCs for the next term. A term for the Chair of the Council is two years, subject to annual reconfirmation. Council declined to appoint a Deputy Chair at this time.

Executive Committee

Council has agreed to form an Executive Committee that will have responsibility for overseeing and supporting implementation of the Council’s strategy. The Executive Committee will involve the Chair of the Council plus three CEOs, each of who have responsibility for one area of activity for the Council across collaboration and partnerships, impact assessment and performance, and stakeholder engagement and communications. The three CEOs confirmed into these roles are Mr Bruce Finney (Cotton) for collaboration, Dr Patrick Hone (Fisheries) for impact assessment and Mr Ian Halliday (Dairy) for stakeholder engagement and communications. The first tasks for the new Executive Committee include developing a workplan and budget for implementation in 2017-18, and initiating a project to develop a longer-term vision for the agricultural innovation sector (see next item).

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

The Council was pleased to welcome the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Senator. The Hon. Anne Ruston to the meeting. Senator Ruston urged to RDCs to think about their role within the agricultural sector, including their relationship with industry peak (advocacy) bodies. She also encouraged the RDCs to prepare a statement looking to the future and presenting a vision for the agricultural innovation system. Council has agreed to pursue this as a project.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Council was also pleased to welcome the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Mr Daryl Quinlivan. Mr Quinlivan discussed the opportunities being presented to the rural sector through growing international economic confidence and an increasing food trade. Mr Quinlivan highlighted the genuine interest from the government for investments in innovation, and also reflected on the need for the RDCs to individually and collectively demonstrate and regularly report on performance and impact.

Engagement with the National Farmers’ Federation

Council has agreed that there is a need to strengthen its relationship with the National Farmers’ Federation as the peak national body representing the agricultural industry sector. NFF CEO Mr Tony Mahar gave an overview presentation and outlined the NFF’s strategy and 2016-17 policy agenda. Council has agreed to continue to explore options with relationship to engagement with the NFF, based on a need to ensure the NFF and its members are well-informed on the impacts being achieved by the RDCs.

Council of Rural RDCs Backgrounder

Council endorsed a new summary information sheet which provides an overview of the RDCs and the Council for internal and external stakeholders. This summary will be uploaded to the Council website at www.ruralrdc.com.au.

Review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity

Dr Wendy Craik and Mr David Palmer, two of the three-member panel currently undertaking a review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity, spoke to the Council about the findings in the draft report and issues raised regarding the management of national biosecurity research priorities and cross-sectoral biosecurity RD&E priorities. Council has made a submission in response to the draft report.

Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia

Foundation CEO Mr Ben Stockwin gave a presentation to Council of the work of the Foundation and what is being achieved. A number of RDCs are current members of the Foundation, and Council acknowledged the work being done. Council agreed that the decision to support the Foundaiton through membership was one for individual RDCs to consider.

National Primary Industries RD&E Framework

Council affirmed its commitment to successful implementation of the National Primary Industries RD&E Framework. Council confirmed RDC representation to the national Research and Innovation Committee as the Cotton and Rural Industries RDCs plus Dairy Australia and Horticulture innovation Australia Limited. Council will also seek more regular updated from the R&I Committee on developments under the Framework.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Council will be held in Canberra on Tuesday 5 September 2017. The next meeting of the RDC CEOs will be held on Tuesday 14 June 2017.