|Home > Productivity Growth and the Returns from Public Investment in R&D in Australian Broadacre Agriculture|
Investment in R&D has long been regarded as an important source of productivity growth in Australian agriculture. Perhaps because research lags are long, current investment in R&D is monitored closely. Investment in R&D has been flat while productivity growth has remained strong, relative both to other sectors of the Australian economy and to the agricultural sectors of other countries. Such productivity growth, at a time when the decline in terms of trade facing Australian farmers has slowed, may have enhanced the competitiveness of Australian agriculture. The econometric results presented here suggest no evidence of a decline in the returns from research from the 15- 40 percent per annum range estimated by Mullen and Cox. In fact the marginal impact of research increases with research over the range of investment levels experienced from 1953 to 2000, a finding which lends support to the view that there is underinvestment in agricultural research. These results were obtained from econometric models which maintain strong assumptions about how investments in research and extension translate into changes in TFP. Hence some caution in interpreting the results is warranted.