The Australian Greens today expanded the terms of reference for a Senate inquiry into higher education and skills in agriculture to include research into climate change adaptation and sustainable agriculture, and ways to incorporate animal welfare principles into agricultural education.
"The Greens welcome the Senate Inquiry moved by Liberal Senator Chris Back and we are pleased that climate change adaptation and animal welfare will also be considered as part of this inquiry", said Greens Senator and higher education spokesperson Lee Rhiannon.
"There is a disturbing mismatch between the surging demand for skills and training in the agricultural sector and the funds flowing to education facilities.
"In 2008, universities were found to be producing fewer the 800 graduates per year in agriculturally related courses in a job market that is crying out for upwards of 4000 qualified professionals.
"Farmers around Australia face the twin challenges of climate change adaptation and meeting public demands on animal welfare but there is insufficient funding going to agricultural higher education and training to support rural Australia to meet these challenges. Agricultural higher education courses and facilities are in decline and starved of funds.
"Our rural sector is being short-changed and I look forward to this inquiry", said Senator Rhiannon.
MOTION PASSED IN THE SENATE - AUSTRALIAN GREENS AMENDMENTS IN CAPITALS
Motion: That the following matter be referred to the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee for inquiry and report by 1 March 2012:
All aspects of higher education and skills training to support future demand in agriculture and agribusiness in Australia be examined, including:
(a) the adequacy and priority given to funding in the agriculture and agribusiness higher education and vocational education and training (VET) sectors by federal, state and territory governments;
(b) the significant decline in agricultural and related educational facilities in the past decade, including reasons and impacts;
(c) solutions to address the widening gap between demand and supply for higher education and VET sector graduates in agriculture and agribusiness in Australia;
(d) the impact of this shortage in terms of agriculture research, including RESEARCH INTO CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL TECHNIQUES, bio-security and food security;
(e) the economic impact on Australia’s terms of trade and reputation as a trusted supplier of high quality foodstuffs to world markets;
(f) WAYS TO FURTHER INCORPORATE ANIMAL WELFARE PRINCIPLES IN AGRICULTURE COURSES; and (g) any related matters.