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Trans Tasman's Political Pulse - 22 November 2017

Trans Tasman's Political Pulse - 22 November 2017

22 November, 2017

AgResearch Science group leader Dr Jolon Dyer, whose team is working on adding value to food exports.

Investing in Agriculture –
Reading The Govt’s Smoke Signals

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS - It seems R&D tax credits are coming back, possibly at the expense of some direct research grants if the agricultural sector is reading the Govt's signals right.

As reported in Trans Tasman's sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, Megan Woods has said little about the Primary Growth Partnership since she became Research, Science and Innovation Minister in the new Govt – at least, no speech or statement on the matter has been posted on her Beehive website.

The last Govt put a lot of emphasis on funding primary sector research through the PGP, but also in other areas such as work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases an example.

Woods did share her views on primary-sector research and development funding with agricultural and horticultural scientists before the election, however, when she said Labour would reintroduce the R&D tax credit it introduced at the end of its last term in Govt.

“We believe a tax credit scheme is critical for increasing private-sector investment in research and development.” She is sure R&D tax credits will help shift the business culture in favour of greater investment in R&D – “something we need to do more of in this country.”

Other Ministers have spoken in favour of tax credits and this will almost certainly be partly funded through cuts to direct grants. They will get some conflicting advice about this now they are in Govt, with some officials sceptical about whether tax credits encourage more research or just more creative accounting of current expenditure.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the PGP – introduced by the previous Govt when it scrapped Labour’s tax credits - will be reviewed and may continue under the new Govt, but with a greater focus on soil and water issues.

He told AgScience the Govt wants to ensure public money spent across the rural and agricultural sectors is giving good value for money. O’Connor also says there is a need for a greater understanding of water and soil and not enough investment had been put into those areas.

As to the role of state grants for R&D, he says the Govt hasn’t committed to any approach, other than to boost the Sustainable Farming Fund, “which we think has been a very successful approach – we like small smart initiatives.”

Trans Tasman’s sister publication, The Main Report Farming Alert, is a weekly source providing you with in-depth news, analysis and opinion on NZ’s agriculture sectors.


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