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Agriculture in schools initiative gets Govt backing

20 April 2009

TODAY the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) welcomes the Federal Government’s formal involvement in the Primary Industries Education Foundation – a not-for-profit company formed to provide stimulating, factual and educationally-relevant materials about modern agriculture for use in Australia’s primary and secondary schools.

The NFF is a founding member and driving force behind the creation of the Foundation, having brought together agricultural groups, educators, peak bodies and the Australian Government over 2006-09 to pioneer this national resource to meet the educational needs of schools, teachers and students that transcend state-based curricula.

“Farmers have been concerned about the information gap in community awareness around what modern agriculture is all about,” NFF President David Crombie explained. “That information can be as simple as where milk comes from – and I don’t mean from a carton or supermarket – to the more serious scientific and practical advances that place Australian agriculture at the forefront of internationally-competitive and environmentally-sustainable food and fibre production.

“Farmers are fundamental to human existence, with our farmers supplying 93% of Australia’s daily food needs. But they are also at the cutting-edge of overcoming climate challenges. Indeed, natural resource management practices are actively employed on 94% of Australian farms and we are renowned as one of the lowest carbon emitting farm systems on Earth.

“Meanwhile, modern farming in Australia generates over $100 billion each year for the national economy, drives $30 billion in exports and directly employs some 310,000 Australians – but, downstream, around 1.6 million jobs in this country hinge on agricultural activity.

“So, Australian farmers play an important role in the day-to-day lives of all Australians on a raft of levels. That said, the NFF recognises the classroom must be a forum for informed discussion and debate, where information is factual and the intellectual rigour underscoring it, is paramount.

“In this regard, the PIEF is dedicated to provide stimulating, factual and educationally-relevant materials. We have no desire to tell teachers what or how they should teach, rather we want to provide credible information about agriculture in a way teachers can readily access, adapt and use at the primary and secondary school levels.

“The Federal Government’s active involvement, announced by Agriculture Minister Tony Burke, is an important partnership to ensure teachers, students and parents can have absolute confidence in the information, materials and resources provided and/or endorsed by the Foundation.

“The Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of modern farming practices to foster greater understanding and appreciation of farming’s relevance to the everyday lives of Australians, and to encourage more students to thoughtfully consider agriculture and agricultural-related careers.”

Following the Federal Government’s entry, the Foundation is now seeking membership from corporations; industry bodies; government departments; educator organisations, schools or groups; and individual teachers to join with the inaugural members, including: the NFF; Meat and Livestock Australia; the National Association of Agricultural Educators; the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture; and the CB Alexander Foundation, Tocal.

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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