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Discussion - Session 2

(as recorded by Alison Medhurst)

The BIG questions

  • What do the Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) need to do differently to effectively fund, develop & utilize extension to achieve their outcomes?
  • What do extension providers (and others) need to do differently to most effectively work in with RDCs?
  • Are RDC’s in research or change?
  • If they are in change, then can they define the goals of change?
  • They must be accountable, but to whom?
  • Is there a focus on learning by all stakeholders?

The Discussion

  • Look at institutional failings.
  • There should be dialogue between the States at a national level.
  • Take a helicopter view (each RDC has a helicopter viewing its activities from above).
  • People (and RDCs) are competing for producers time.
  • There is confusion on the ground about where to find information.
  • Try a satellite view (lots of helicopters buzzing around obscuring the view)!
  • Most farmers have a combination of enterprises (so lots of helicopters).
  • Avoid overlap between RDCs.
  • Les Baxter - extension officers need to come out of the closet.
  • The RDCs don’t receive a lot of applications from extension people.

The need to get organised:

  • R&D cannot solve all the problems, some are cross commodity, others specific.
  • Who is responsible for adoption? Corporations? State Governments? Growers?
  • Roslyn Prinsley - What needs to change to improve the development of this industry? i.e. About change, not just research.
  • DeAnn Glenn - The purchaser/provider or user-pays system has been introduced for extension.
  • Andrew Campbell - From the satellite, what would you do differently?
  • It is easier to stay inside the farm gate than to make decisions about what product or services they could get involved in.
  • We need to accept that we must look at it from the producer's point of view - they are very busy and often it is easier to stay at home.
  • Tony Eyres - there is pressure on fewer and fewer people, with resultant social pressures and impact on peoples time. And pressure from the government about spending money?
  • Roslyn Prinsley - the triple bottom line focus is meant to address some of these problems
  • Andrew Campbell - we are going to hear a lot more about the triple bottom line - to date, there is not enough focus on the social aspect of this:
  • what are the indicators of social outcomes?
  • when has the erosion of human capital made farming communities not viable?
  • what are the optimising functions for the triple bottom line factors? (The balancing act.)

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