Ag education program must be spared from axe

The Queensland Government has axed their funding for a primary and secondary school agriculture learning program. AgForce Chief Executive Officer Michael Guerin sheds some light on the issue, calling for a reversal of the decision.

Since 2004, the School to Industry Partnership (SIPP) program has helped teach Queensland primary school students where their food comes from and show high school students the many job opportunities in agriculture available to them.

The hands-on program is unique to Queensland and engages with more than 10,000 students and teachers every year.

It’s 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.

SIPP was first funded by the Beattie Labor Government and has been supported by every State Government since, with 100 per cent of the $181,000 in government funding going towards whole-of-agriculture education activities and services.

That’s why AgForce was so dismayed to receive a letter from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries stating that ‘DAF is unable to contribute any funding to SIPP beyond 2018’.

Cutting funding to this program will mean Queensland kids will become even more disconnected from where their food comes from.

It will mean fewer kids pursuing a career in ag at a time when the industry is already facing critical skills shortages.

It will mean the end of dedicated industry tours that give students direct contact with primary producers and potential employers.

And it will mean less industry support and fewer professional development opportunities for our hard-working ag teachers.

Since news broke about this funding cut, I’ve been heartened to see the outpouring of support for the program from teachers, students, farmers, industry groups and everyday Queenslanders.

An online petition has been set up via change.org at https://bit.ly/2xpKcgO while many have taken to social media through the hashtag #SaveSIPP to share their stories about what the program meant to them.

For more information on the campaign and the school click here.

Michael Guerin

Michael Guerin

Michael is the CEO of AgForce Queensland.
AgForce Queensland is a peak organisation representing Queensland's producers of cattle, grain, sheep and wool whose purpose is advancing sustainable agribusiness.

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