Goodbye Australia, Hello New Zealand!

Its been a whirlwind so far.  We spent all day Friday at the Grains Research and Development Corporation head office in Canberra, Australia.  We learned about the status of the DOHA trade negotiations and the global status of trade policy from Tim Crowe of the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.  He described he last 11 years of negotiations like ‘…a kangaroo hopping back and forth in front of a car…you never know what side your on.’  – an authentic Australian analogy!

John Harvey, CEO of the Grains Research and Development Corporation met with us over lunch.  GRDC is the result of a unique partnership between farmers and the Australian government and is responsible for coordinating and funding research and extension activities for Australian grain farmers.  John shared some of his insights related to the scale of research in the public and private sectors.  He was insightful in his views on achieving public good through research.  Two statements stuck with me: 

1) Until research results in farmers actually changing a practise or doing something different, its value is zero.

2)  The best way for the government to help farmers implement practices that have an aspect of public good (such as environmental protection) is to find ways to make it improve their business.

These statements may seem obvious, but I believe our Canadian system should pay more attention to them when reviewing policy.  We need to focus on IMPLEMENTABLE RESULTS and ACHIEVING PUBLIC BENEFITS THROUGH STRONGER FARM BUSINESSES.

Saturday was a travel day.  We left Canberra early in the morning and after a couple of connecting flights and an hour’s drive, arrived in Ashburton, NZ, in the heart of some of the most productive dairy and crop production in the world.  Sunday will be spent on farms – can’t wait!

A rainbow outside the GRDC building, Canberra, Australia

Rainbow outside GRDC building

The countryside outside Christchurch, New Zealand

Descending on Christchurch, NZ


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