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Opening the farm gate: Government invests in ag education

31 May 2013

An announcement of $1.5 million from the Federal Government to help Australian students learn about their food is a positive step forward, says the nation’s peak agricultural body, but much more needs to be done.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) CEO Matt Linnegar says it’s good to see the Government’s recognition of the need to help tell the story of agriculture, and hopes the $1.5 million, committed to agricultural education as part of the National Food Plan, is just the start of the Government’s investment.

“The story of Australian farmers is a very positive one, and it’s critical that the students of today, and the citizens and possible future agriculturalists of tomorrow, know where their food comes from,” Mr Linnegar said.

“The Government obviously agrees, with today’s announcement of $1.5 million for a schools program aimed at informing students of food production, increasing the profile of agriculture among teachers, careers advisors and students, and helping to attract a new generation of young people into agriculture.

“The Government program, Food in the Australian Curriculum, will involve the development of education resources which will be linked to the Australian curriculum.

“This is good news, given the Australian agricultural sector, the NFF and the Primary Industries Education Foundation have long been calling for agriculture to be included in the new national curriculum.

“Unfortunately this program stops short of actually embedding agriculture in the curriculum, but it does commit to developing materials and upskilling teachers to teach students about food in conjunction with the curriculum, which is a good step forward.

“But as we said on Saturday with the release of the Food Plan, the $1.5 million committed by the Government to this initiative is certainly welcome, but it must be considered a starting point for a greater long-term investment from governments and industry.

“We had originally called for a $5 million investment from the Government into this important area, and we also want to see equal consideration given to Australia’s vital fibre production sector. There is an enormous amount of work to be done, and we will be working with the Government to ensure that this program meets its stated objectives of educating students about agriculture,” Mr Linnegar said.

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