The Australian pasture seeds industry has a gross value of production (GVP) in the order of $50 million each year. The industry comprises approximately 500 growers who produce an average of 9,000 tonnes of certified seed from a production area of 19,000 hectares under contract for both export and domestic markets. The importance of the certified pasture seeds industry within Australia also lies in its contribution to the productivity of other agricultural sectors, including the grains sector and livestock industries such as beef, sheep, dairy and equine.
The industry has in place a statutory levy on certified seed sales in both domestic and export markets. The levy is currently struck at between $10/tonne and $15/tonne depending on the category of seed being certified. Levy funds are directed to the AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program, which invests in research and development activities on behalf of the industry. Half of Program expenditure, including R&D expenditure, is matched by the Australian Government at a level up to 0.5% of industry GVP.
The Program invested almost $2.3 million in 18 projects under the AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program RD&E Plan 2019-2023 to maximise opportunities and minimise risks for a profitable and sustainable certified temperate pasture seeds industry. An economic impact assessment was conducted on 13 projects completed (or nearly completed) in the period 1 July 2018 to 30 July 2023. Five projects were selected for deeper quantitative analysis as they were likely to deliver significant and demonstrable impacts, as well as being broadly representative of the overall investment portfolio. Triple bottom line impacts from RD&E investments under the Plan expected to accrue to the pasture seeds industry and other external stakeholder groups were also assessed. This analysis was critical in reviewing the effectiveness of these investments and for informing the development of a new RD&E Plan for the AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program for the period 2023-2028.
The economic impact assessment calculated a benefit-cost ratio of between 6.5 and 11.5 for total project investments, and between 5.4 and 12.7 for the AgriFutures Australian contribution to these projects. These are significant and meaningful benefits and should give certified temperate pasture seeds levy payers and other stakeholders confidence in the project outcomes and investment decisions within the Program.