The Northern Tablelands’ new Integrated Livestock Centre of Excellence will combine the expertise and facilities of three major research institutions in projects geared towards practical solutions to the sector’s big challenges.
Established in March 2015, the Centre formalises the longstanding ad-hoc relationships among researchers at New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), CSIRO and University of New England (UNE) in the area of livestock research.
The partners, who dubbed their collaboration the Integrated Livestock Centre of Excellence, have made no financial agreement but have committed to:
- accelerating the exchange of research findings with the overarching goal of increasing productivity and profitability across Australia’s livestock industries and the broader Australian economy;
- providing (or extending) applied research with commercial relevance to established and emerging international livestock industries;
- developing and retaining world-class researchers in livestock production science;
- providing greater value and capture of value across the value chain; and
- building the innovation and capability required to service the nation’s livestock industry, now and into the future.
“The Centre of Excellence expands on a partnership spanning nearly 40-years and reaffirms our joint commitment to the productivity and profitability of Australian primary producers and Australian red meat industries through delivering commercially applicable research and development,” said Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Katrina Hodgkinson MP, at the official opening of the Centre on 2 March.
“We are committed to working more closely together to obtain greater benefits from research and development whilst maintaining a very strong focus on practical, cost-effective outcomes for industry.”
Professor Annabelle Duncan, Vice-Chancellor of UNE, said the Centre’s establishment reflects each partner’s contribution to and represents a substantial joint investment in the future of livestock-related R&D. “All partners have made significant contributions to the competitiveness of the Australian livestock industry, including developing the Meat Standards Australia grading scheme, integrated programs for management of animal diseases and BREEDPLAN,” Professor Duncan said.
The new Centre will support advances in areas of research strength that lead to greater commercial opportunities for the sector, noted Dr John Manners, Director of CSIRO’s Agriculture Flagship. “Combining our expertise and experience will enhance our ability to pursue new investment opportunities and exploit research capabilities in genomics, next-generation phenotyping, production systems and supply chains,” he said.
According to UNE Vice Chancellor Annabel Duncan, the three institutions will work jointly on various externally-funded projects. “We will be a one-stop shop for people and organisations – for example, peak industry bodies – who want to work with us to access our joint expertise,” she explained.
“It’s also about making our teams more able to cope with the really big problems and research questions the industry has.”
Research teams will be handpicked to suit the project, she said. “Some projects may require a team that consists mainly of DPI staff; others may be the other way around, given we all have slightly different skill mixes.” The partnership will not have a fixed term, Professor Duncan said.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall was excited by the collaboration, saying the partnership underscores the significance of the livestock industry to the Northern Tablelands and NSW. “This is a real feather in the cap for our region and due recognition of the value of the industry and the research already being undertaken by UNE, DPI and the various livestock breed associations right here in the Northern Tablelands,” he said.