Last week the Queensland Government announced the shutdown of two agricultural colleges causing a chorus of anger and disappointment from the ag community.
Queensland Agricultural Minister Mark Furner said the Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges (QATC) and its flagship training colleges in Longreach and Emerald would be closing at the end of 2019.
“The model as we know it for residential training in respect to Longreach and Emerald is a model that is outdated,” Mr Furner said in a statement on Wednesday.
“In this government we have poured millions of dollars into this program to try and keep it viable. But we have drawn a line in the sand and have decided to close the colleges by the end of 2019.
“This will see the end of QATC as an identity.”
The colleges’ history’s date back to the 1960s with Longreach Pastoral College celebrating its 50th graduation ceremony in 2017.
AgForce General President Georgie Somerset said the colleges were too important to agriculture to be axed.
“These well-equipped colleges, with their unique locations and infrastructure, offer opportunities to support profitable and sustainable agriculture in areas like carbon-neutral farming, drought mitigation, flora and fauna conservation, reef preservation and increased indigenous and female participation,” Ms Somerset said.
National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said it beggared belief that the Government would make such a decision without consulting those most impacted.
“We are at a loss to understand how constraining the path ways for young people to pursue a career in the industry can be anything but a slight against the bush,” Ms Simson said.
“Agriculture already suffers from an ability to attract young people and to source workers in general.”
We need more new entrants not less.Fiona Simson
Unfortunately, this is not an unfamiliar story. This time last year the
Moora Residential College in Western Australia was fighting to keep its doors open . Luckily the college was saved thanks to a hard-fought battle waged by a coalition of passionate supporters.
The NFF has a plan for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030 and according to Ms Simson, investing in the education of our young people is a key part of the plan to achieve the 2030 target.
“One thing’s for sure, closing agricultural colleges and effectively limiting the path ways to a career in agriculture, is not in keeping with this vision,” she said.
AgForce Queensland have put their hand up to take over the operation of the colleges.
“AgForce’s plan is to overhaul these institutions and the services they offer to form the backbone of a comprehensive, future-looking rural research and education system that offers benefits beyond agriculture,” Ms Somerset said.
AgForce have started a change.org online petition to save the ag colleges.
To show your support in saving the ag colleges click HERE.