Rice growers in Griffith and around the country will pay an additional $3 for every tonne of rice they sell if recommendations put forth to the government in a report by Rice Growers Australia (RGA) are approved.
The report titled Future proofing the rice industry was commissioned by the RGA in mid-2017 and was put forth to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources last month.
The report recommends a $3 increase to the existing statutory rice research and development levy which funds research and development for improving the breeds and practices available for rice growers in Australia.
The levy is paid by growers and administered by AgriFutures Australia and is currently capped at $3 for every tonne of rice sold by a grower.
RGA are now hoping to double that amount and provide an additional $1.6 million annually for research into rice.
AgriFutures research and development committee chairman Drew Braithwaite is a Griffith rice grower and Nuffield Scholar.
Mr Braithwaite said AgriFutures are doing much of their rice research out of the Department of Primary Industry’s Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Rice and Horticulture located in Yanco.
Mr Braithwaite believes the increased funding for research, development, and extension projects in the rice industry will be essential for improving the water efficiency and the premiumisation of the rice breeds being grown in Griffith and around Australia.
For rice growers Mr Braithwaite said this will improve the returns in prices and yield, and decrease water use.
“Our breeding program is the biggest part of what we do, breeding rice is a balancing act between agronomics the markets and making a breed viable for the region,” Mr Braithwaite said.
“We have been breeding some medium grain rices improving their ratio in length to width, and breeding long grain varieties such as fragrant rice”
RGA policy manger Rachel Kelly said the decision of the company to refer the report to Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, came after a postal vote held by RGA in December last year to measure support for an increased levy.
According to Mrs Kelly, 427 out the total 944 rice growers approached by the RGA participated in the vote, with 64 per cent of the participants voting in favor of a increase to the levy.
“We advertised in local and regional newspapers in Queensland, northern NSW and the Riverina, we attended grower meetings in all those regions, we sent direct communications to growers via email correspondence and rang a number of growers who process their product,” Mrs Kelly said.
Mrs Kelly said it may well take another 12 months for the RGA’s recommendations to pass through the government into legislation as the federal election will likely cause delays if the government enters into caretaker mode before the election.
“I’m hoping for less than 12 months, we have been fortunate that we have been taking a pilot process with the department where they have assisted us throughout the process,” Mrs Kelly said.
DO YOU WANT MORE GRIFFITH NEWS?
Receive our free newsletter delivered to your inbox every Monday morning. Sign up here.