Queensland school students will be the big losers from the Palaszczuk Government's decision to cut funding for a hands-on agricultural education program that showcases where food comes from and highlights job opportunities in agriculture, AgForce said today.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the School to Industry Partnership Program had been operating since 2004 and engaged with more than 10,000 Queensland school students and teachers every year.
"This is a unique program that works across Queensland to connect school students of all ages with agriculture and show them the important role it plays in their lives," he said.
"The Palaszczuk Government's short-sighted decision to cut funding to this program will mean Queensland kids will become even more disconnected from where their food comes from and how it is produced.
"This program has provided the first opportunity for many children to touch sheep, cattle and chickens, to learn that cotton is from a plant, to pull vegetables from a garden and to climb over tractors.
"Axing this program will mean fewer kids pursuing a career in ag at a time when the industry is already facing critical skills shortages and technology is transforming the way we farm. It will mean the end of dedicated industry tours that give students direct contact with primary producers and potential employers.
"For our hard working ag teachers who already have a difficult job, it means less professional development opportunities and less support from industry."
Mr Guerin said the School to Industry Partnership Program was first funded by the Beattie Labor Government and had been funded by every State Government since on the back of the widespread support it has across agriculture, and from schools, teachers and students.
"The biggest losers from this decision are Queensland kids and we're calling on the Palaszczuk Government to reverse this cut so this vital program can continue beyond the end of the year," he said.
AgForce has supported and managed the School to Industry Partnership Program since it began in 2004 with 100% of funds going towards whole-of-agriculture education activities and services. The annual budget is $181,000 with two part-time staff employed to deliver the program.