There are 15 Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) covering the main agricultural industries. The RDCs bring industry and researchers together to share funding and develop strategic directions that provide the sector with innovative and productive tools to compete in global markets.

The RDC partnership model between industry and government has been a vital element in the success of Australia’s research, development and extension (RD&E) effort. In the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector, R&D has helped Australian agriculture double its productivity over the past 25 years. The Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations’ Chairs (CRRDCC) is a forum for ensuring that the RDC model continues to contribute to a sustainable and profitable Australian agricultural sector.

Rural research a sound investment

In 2017-18, the 15 RDCs invested approximately $750 million in RD&E to improve the profitability and sustainability of rural industries and communities. This funding is a combination of levies on production paid by producers, and contributions from government, paid by taxpayers.

As managers and stewards of this money on behalf of the government and industry, it is imperative that the RDCs are fully accountable and transparent for expenditure, and able to demonstrate the impact and performance of the work they do.

The largest evaluation of Australian rural research and investment ever undertaken found that investment directed by rural RDCs benefits both the sector and the wider Australian community.

In 2016, the Council of Rural RDCs commissioned Agtrans Research and Consulting, AgEconPlus Consulting and EconSearch to review the completed evaluations and generate an aggregated analysis of the results. The report from this project is available here: CRRDC Cross-RDC Impact Assessment 2010-2015.

Initial benefit cost assessments

A research report released in December 2008, showed that from a group of randomly selected RDC projects, every RDC dollar invested gave a return to the community of $11. The return shows that the RDC model of co-investment is a very efficient mechanism for achieving solid results.