New weeds research centre promises huge returns

Spending money on research into weeds pays off handsomely in the long term, especially if channelled through a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

That’s according to NSW Department of Primary Industries’ economist Randall Jones, who has examined the benefits of setting up a new research centre into invasive plants once the current Weeds CRC winds up in 2008.

“Even without a CRC, weeds research pays”, Dr Jones said.

Without a CRC, there is an estimated 18 to 1 return on investment in weeds research over 25 years.

With a CRC, the average cost benefit of investing in research into weeds climbs to 55:1.

In a paper presented to the 15th Australian Weeds Conference, Dr Jones concludes that investing $30 million of taxpayer funds into a new CRC will leverage a further $64 million of in-kind and cash contributions from research providers.

Such an investment 'will generate an additional $2,071m in discounted benefits to the Australian economy'.

Dr Jones said the higher benefits result from the more integrated CRC research outputs having a greater impact on industries than research programs conducted by individual agencies.

He says the analysis shows that the proposed Invasive Plants CRC can contribute substantially to Australia’s economic growth through the generation of benefits to producers, processors and consumers in the grains, beef, wool and lamb industries.

There are also likely to be significant environmental and social impacts which have not been valued in this study.

The beef industry is estimated to be the largest beneficiary from the CRC ($881m over 25 years) followed by the grains industry ($660m over 25 years).