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Agribusiness welcomes boost for research

ALI TOCKER
Last updated 05:00 25/05/2012

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In a modest Budget for business overall, the key gain for the agribusiness sector is increased funding for science, research and innovation, industry players say.

Finance Minister Bill English has announced the Government's annual spending on science and innovation will increase by $385 million in the next four years, taking total science and innovation spending in the Government to more than $1.3 billion by 2015-2016.

New funding in the next four years includes $166m extra to develop the new Advanced Technology Institute, $60m extra for National Science Challenges to find innovative solutions to fundamental issues in New Zealand, $100m extra to increase the Performance-Based Research Fund, and $59m extra to boost funding for science and engineering tertiary courses, English said.

Dairy sector leaders have responded favourably to the Budget.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said the dairy co-operative appreciated the Government's commitment to a moderate and balanced approach in the face of global uncertainty.

This would help build the confidence that Fonterra and its shareholders needed to invest and seek new opportunities, he said.

"We share the Government's confidence that despite global volatility, New Zealand will remain well placed to benefit from trade with fast-growing economies in Asia.

"We also share confidence that demand for exports into China and Australia will keep pace with this," Spierings said.

"At the same time, Fonterra will be driving more value from every drop of milk with our renewed focus on providing dairy nutrition to the young and ageing in these markets."

Fonterra welcomed the Government's announcements on funding boosts for science and innovation. "Fonterra shares the Government's commitment to science and innovation. We're enthusiastic about efforts to strengthen New Zealand's science system," Spierings said.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the $100m in additional funding for a Performance-Based Research Fund was encouraging.

"With a focus on world-class research, we would expect a significant proportion of this would go toward agricultural research. Opportunities from research in this area could further enhance our international competitiveness."

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- Waikato Times

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