THE report Research activities on rural roads shows the way new rural and regional roads are evaluated and prioritised does not adequately capture the real value of agricultural use.
The case study on the Moree Plains and Gwydir Shire Councils in northern New South Wales shows that a national approach or framework to assess agricultural road use is needed to effectively evaluate small and large-scale road infrastructure projects.
Principal researcher Professor Derek Baker, Director of University of New England's Centre for Agribusiness, worked with UNE Business School's Dr David Hadley to complete the report.
"Increased reliability and quality of freight infrastructure can yield big benefits for agriculture,” Professor Baker said.
"For example, simple logistics like getting a product to market on a sealed road versus unsealed could mean the difference between taking advantage of export opportunities and premium prices.
"The study suggests there are substantial market benefits to be gained from rural road upgrades and new variables should be considered as part of future cost-benefit analysis.”
AgriFutures Australia Research and Innovation Program Manager Jennifer Medway said more work needed to be done to examine alternative approaches to cost-benefit analysis when improving rural roads.
"Freight and roads are big ticket issues for Australian agriculture. The ability to freight input onto farms and production out is critical to growing our nation's agricultural capacity.”
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