An introduction to Australia’s RDCs

Type: Article
Knowledge level: Introductory

In Australia, there are 15 Research & Development Corporations


An introduction to the RDCs

There are 15 Rural RDCs that work across the industry, which work on a joint model of government and industry funding. The RDCs commission research on behalf of primary producers, some processors and the Government.

Most of the current RDCs derive the bulk of their funding from statutory or voluntary levies on primary producers, and in some cases processors, and matching funding contributions from the Australian Government — generally up to a ceiling of 0.5 per cent of an industry’s gross value of production.” (Productivity Commission, 2011)

There are a mixed of statutory bodies and industry-owned companies:


  1. Cotton Research and Development Corporation
  2. Grains Research and Development Corporation
  3. Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
  4. AgriFutures Australia (previously trading as Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation)
  5. Sugar Research and Development Corporation (now Sugar Research Australia and is industry-owned)
  6. Australian Grape and Wine Authority (now Wine Australia)


  1. Forest and Wood Products Australia
  2. Dairy Australia Limited
  3. Australian Wool Innovation Limited
  4. Meat and Livestock Australia
  5. Australian Egg Corporation Limited
  6. Horticulture Innovation Australia
  7. Australian Pork Limited
  8. Australian Meat Processor Corporation
  9. Livecorp Limited

“A key difference is between the statutory corporations and the IOCs. The former are solely responsible for funding R&D and related extension activity, and operate under the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development Act 1989 (the PIERD Act). In contrast, the IOCs also have marketing and, in some cases, industry representation functions. Moreover, they are subject to the Corporations Act 2001, with the requirements of the PIERD Act replicated through ‘Statutory Funding Agreements’. (Productivity Commission, 2011)

Learn more…


History: Statutory authority established by the Australian Government in 1990. The CRDC is based in Narrabri, NSW.
Key responsibilities: support the performance of the cotton industry by investing in RD&E.
Funding: Partnership of co-investment between Australian cotton growers and the Australian Government. The cotton industry R&D levy (excluding GST) is $2.25 per 227 kilogram bale of cotton. Cotton levy revenue is collected at the point of ginning, that is, when cotton has been picked and delivered to cotton gins. The Australian Government contributes matching funds up to a limit of 0.5 per cent of industry Gross Value of Production (Annual Report, 2014)
Why would you access this site?: Access tools available to growers, myBMPCottonInfo and CottASSIST.


History: Statutory corporation founded in 1990.
Key responsibilities: “Drive the discovery, development and delivery of world-class innovation to enhance the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Australian grain growers and benefit the industry and the wider community” (GRDC website).
Funding: “GRDC is principally funded by a grower levy and Australian Government contributions. The levy is based on the net farm gate value of the annual production of 25 crops. The Australian Government’s contribution is determined annually, based on the three-year rolling average of the gross value of production of the 25 leviable crops (GRDC website).
Why would you access this site?: Access the wide range of GRDC-funded R&D projects through their search tool.


History: Based in Canberra, the FRDC was formed as a statutory corporation on 2nd July 1991.
Key responsibilities: “Plan and invest in fisheries research, development and extension (RD&E) activities in Australia. This includes providing leadership and coordination of the monitoring, evaluating and reporting on RD&E activities, facilitating dissemination, extension and commercialisation” (FRDC website).
Membership: Free to over 47,500 livestock levy-paying producers of cattle, sheepmeat and/or goats.
Funding: Australian Government and contributions revenue from the Commonwealth and state-based fisheries.
Why would you access this site?: Browse the FRDC final research reports and learn about more about our aquatic environment.


History: Statutory authority established in 1989, now based in Wagga Wagga, NSW.
Key responsibilities: “AgriFutures Australia is a new beginning for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC). We are an organisation that proudly focuses on the future of Australian agriculture. We live and work in the regions and represent the interests and aspirations of farmers and rural communities.” (AgriFutures website) Their goals, focused on rural Australia, are to promote leadership and innovation, increase profit and productivity and ensure sector sustainability.
Funding: Australian Government and a number of levy funded industries (including rice, chicken meat, honeybee and small animal industries), which are managed as stand alone programs.
Why would you access this site?: Access what can I farm in my region?   Farm Diversity information  and a wealth of research publications.


History: In 2011, the Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC) and BSES Limited will be wound-up and their assets and R&D functions, along with the research coordination activities of Sugar Research Limited, transferred to the industry owned company, Sugar Research Australia Limited (SRA)(Commonwealth of Australia Explanatory Memoranda). The SRA is now an industry-owned company.
Key responsibilities“To ensure the best possible outcomes at an industry, regional and individual level.  We’ll be doing this by conducting and funding research as well as by providing our members with resources, tools and information that will assist in each step of the sugarcane growing and milling process” (SRA website).
Funding: Based on a statutory levy paid by grower and milling businesses, the Commonwealth government matching funds and grants from the Queensland Government and other bodies. The statutory levy, which came into force on 1 July 2013, is 70 cents per tonne of cane, with both grower and milling businesses each contributing 35 cents per tonne of cane.
Why would you access this site?: Access the SRA e-library and the SRA Trial Tracker to find out about research projects and trials.