AN education program designed to get Queensland school kids interested in a career in agriculture will be slashed with the state government pulling funding at the end of the school year.
The School to Industry Partnership Program was first introduced in Queensland in 2004 and attracted $181,000 in State funding annually.
The program, which was managed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and facilitated by AgForce, reached over 10,000 primary and secondary school students each year.
The popular program aimed to give students a taste of agricultural industries, giving them an understanding of where their food came from and about life on the land.
But the program has been placed on the scrap heap after the state government failed to budget funding beyond this year.
A spokesman for Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner confirmed the funding would cease on December 31.
“The School Industry Partnership Program is funded by the Queensland Government until December 31,” the spokesman said.
“The Program is currently under review and no decision has been made on its future beyond that date.”
AgForce School to Industry Liaison Officer Tanya Nagle, who helps to run the program said ultimately, the kids would be the ones missing out.
“It’s very disappointing for me, but also for the teachers and the school students as they’re the ones missing out,” Ms Nagle said.
“The schools schedule is packed as it is and they don’t have the time to get in touch with industry groups to organise events, there will be no-one to fill that space.
“We’re the conduit between industry and schools and liaise with both to get the best outcomes.”
A highlight of the program was the popular Moo Baa Munch series, which aimed to increase awareness among students, about where their food and fibre comes from, and why farming is important in their community.
The program is run across the state from Malanda in Far North Queensland to Toowoomba and Brisbane.
”We are running a Moo Baa Munch in October at Toowoomba and unfortunately this will be the last one if the cut goes ahead,” Ms Nagle said.
“We get 500 kids there each day and for a lot it’s their first chance to touch a chicken, or see a sheep.
“It’s super popular, the kids love it and it’s a chance to get out of the classroom.”
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin described the government’s decision to cut funding as ‘short-sighted’ saying Queensland children would become even more disconnected from where their food comes from.
“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,” Mr Guerin said.
“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.
Mr Guerin called on the Palaszczuk government to reverse the cut so the vital program could continue beyond the end of the year.”