Statements made by State Agriculture Minister mark Furner last week in State Parliament have drawn the ire AgForce.
The Minister’s claims to the House that the popular school agricultural program that reaches over 10,000 Queensland students a year is “no longer relevant” have been slammed by the peak agricultural body.
The Minister told the house that funding for the 14-year-old program will cease at the end of this year but AgForce says that funding need needs to go the other way and be increased.
CEO Michael Guerin says rather than scrapping the program Government needs to increase its funding and expand the program.
The AgForce CEO says polling conducted for National Ag Day last year showed that 83% of Australians described their connection with farming as distant or non-existent and that he says justifies an expansion of the program.
“It means that teaching school children where their food comes from was now more relevant than ever.”
“Agriculture is one of the fastest growing industries in the country, and many of the current and future jobs in the sector require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
“The industry is already facing skills shortages and that will only get worse if the Queensland Government axes a program that showcases to high school students the many and varied careers in agriculture.”
The SIPP program engaged with 10,000 students a year and does so with just two staff and a budget of $180,000.
He says the program needs to be expanded and funded properly and that reach could be more than doubled in a short space of time.
The SIPP program started in 2004 as a way to connect school communities with agriculture and teach kids about life on the land and where their food comes from.