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Agriculture: Research

Volume 505: debated on Friday 5 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how much (a) his Department, (b) the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and (c) other public bodies spent on each category of agricultural research in each of the last 10 years; (315151)

(2) what estimate he has made of public expenditure on research and development on agriculture as a proportion of total spending on research and development in each of the last 10 years;

(3) what proportion of publicly-funded research and development related to agriculture is (a) basic and (b) applied research.

Over the last 10 years research programmes and public funders of agricultural R and D (including DEFRA) have been restructured and comparable data across this period are not available by categories. The following table presents the food and farming R and D funding by the main sponsors (DEFRA, BBSRC and DFID) since 2003-04.

R&D funding on farming and food per financial year

£ million

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

DEFRA agricultural R and D funding

81

75

78

78

75

68

65

Total BBSRC funding on farming and food research

132

129

138

150

171

185

189

DFID

n/a

30

38

36

35

38

41

Total

n/a

234

254

264

281

291

295

Total Government (inc NERC, ESRC, FSA, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland)

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

368

365

Note:

DEFRA's research is primarily applied strategic, BBSRC's is primarily fundamental and DFID funds research in and for developing countries.

National statistics on R and D spend are presented per calendar year, and the latest year available is 2007. The following table compares the combined DEFRA, BBSRC and DFID funding on farming and food R and D with total spend on R and D between 2003 and 2008, indicating that Government expenditure in food and farming research has represented on average 1.2 per cent. of total R and D investment.

Year1

Total Government expenditure on R and D in the UK (£ million)2

Year3

Defra, BBSRC and DFID funding on agricultural R and D (£ million)

Ratio (percentage)

2008

n/a

2008-09

295

n/a

2007

25423

2007-08

291

1.14

2006

23410

2006-07

281

1.20

2005

22106

2005-06

264

1.19

2004

20242

2004-05

254

1.25

2003

19727

2003-04

234

1.19

1 Expenditure shown by calendar year.

2 Source: Office for National Statistics.

3 Expenditure shown for financial year.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/tsdataset.asp?vlnk=532&More=N&AII=Y

In 2007-08, over 68 per cent. of public investment on food and farming research and development supported applied (strategic and specific) research (based on the international Frascati coding definitions), with the remainder for basic research.

Source:

http://www.dius.gov.uk/~/media/publications/GO-Science/UK-Cross-Government-Food-Research-Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the return on investment in agricultural research and development. (315152)

DEFRA has not carried out a full assessment of return on its investment on agricultural R and D. DEFRA R and D has been commissioned to develop evidence to inform policy development or develop solutions which underpin policy objectives.

In 2006 DEFRA assessed the rationale for investment in animal and plant genetics to underpin breeding. A review of returns on R and D investment1 was commissioned to inform this assessment, which considered relevant UK studies and their estimates of the rates of return on agricultural R and D. These studies showed a great deal of variance in rates of return, which reflects both the length of time period studied and improvements in the estimation method employed, but the three most recent reported internal rates of return between 22-44 per cent.

Part of the economic benefit of investment in R and D arises from the support of research facilities which maintain strategic capabilities, and this is equally difficult to quantify. An independent report by DTZ consultants in 2008 estimated that the Institute for Animal Health work on bluetongue virus potentially saved the UK economy £485 million and 10,000 jobs in that year2.

1 DEFRA (2006). The rationale for DEFRA investment in R and D underpinning the genetic improvement of crops and animals—Project IF0101:

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module =More&Location=None&Completed=0&ProjectID=14403

2 The economic and social impact of the Institute for Animal Health’s work on Foot and Mouth Disease:

http://www.iah.bbsrc.ac.uk/ecosoc/docs/Foot-and-Mouth-Case-Study.pdf