If I had a million dollars
CEO Commentary by Mike McMorris
Every year, many organizations (producer groups, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs and others) establish research priorities. They all struggle to balance the number of priorities with available funds.
One way to cut to the chase is to ask, “If you had a million dollars and could spend it on one item, what would that be?” That brings the pendulum to the other extreme of one issue and then finding a balance between the two is the task at hand.
A further task is finding a balance between research that impacts the industry in the short term and research that could have big benefits further out.
One LRIC member organization is looking at a new approach which ties their research priorities to their A2B plan. A is where you are today, B is where you need to be in ten years and 2 involves the steps (including research and innovation) that you need to get there.
Putting this into a table format, using key areas of focus (climate change, antimicrobial use, etc) provides a direct link to an organizations strategic plan and allows effective reporting on progress. This approach has many benefits, but it is certainly harder as you need to clearly identify where you are going. In many cases, it also identifies that research is needed to specify where you are at today (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of product).
Clearly identifying industry opportunities and challenges and stating these as research questions to be answered helps drive good research. Ontario’s livestock industry is in an enviable situation with fantastic new facilities. It will be up to all parties to ensure that adequate funding is available and that research priorities are clear in order to realize the great potential before us.