THE decision to axe funding for a popular children’s agricultural education program in Queensland has been slammed by the State Opposition.
The North Queensland Register and Queensland Country Life yesterday revealed the State Government would not provide funding for the School to Industry Partnership Program beyond the end of the school year.
The program, which is facilitated by AgForce was first introduced in Queensland in 2004 and attracted $181,000 in State funding annually.
The State Government yesterday admitted funding had not been allocated beyond December, 2018 and the program was under review.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington today slammed the move and said it showed that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was out of touch with the bush.
She demanded that the funding be reinstated as a matter of priority.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to cut funding for ag education shows just how out of touch her government is,” Ms Frecklington said.
“When is she going to stop attacking agriculture and our farmers?
“Education around ag is an important stepping stone for encouraging people to buy our produce.
“I call on Labor to reinstate this important education funding for the bush.”
Educators have also stepped into the fray, with Dalby State High School teacher Janine Milne making an impassioned plea on social media for other teachers to lobby against the change.
“This is absolutely outrageous - a program and coordinators who put their heart and soul into engaging the next generation of young people into an industry of technology-driven sustainability,” she wrote of the funding cut.
“The number of school projects that I can name that have been assisted by this program is long and numerous over many years.
“A call to action of the highest importance, please make as much noise as we possibly can.
“AgForce SIP program is such a valuable resource for teachers and students.
“My fellow Aggies we must unite and show how truly valuable this program is to our schools, agricultural education and more broadly the agricultural industry as a whole.”
The program reached over 10,000 primary and secondary school students each year and aimed to give students a taste of agricultural industries, to provide an understanding of where their food came from and about life on the land.
AgForce School to Industry Liaison Officer Tanya Nagle yesterday 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.
It was run across the state from Malanda in the Far North to Toowoomba, where the final event will be held in October.
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.