Rural lobby group AgForce says a Queensland Government shake-up of agricultural colleges is a chance to make them more relevant for business.
The Government will sell some land and facilities of the Australian Agricultural College Corporation for $17 million.
That will cover most of the cost of expanding the college’s sites from five to 14.
AgForce president John Cotter says the industry needs to be promoted too.
“There’s eight jobs in agribusiness to every farmer, so we want to make sure that people can move around – as they do these days – into a variety of those careers that have … to do with agribusiness,” he said.
Mr Cotter says it is time for change.
“Most businesses remodel their businesses every three to five years and this is an opportunity now to make sure that [what] these colleges produce is relevant to the industry and relevant to the modern way we do business,” he said.
But the Member for Burdekin, Rosemary Menkens, says she is concerned there may be further cutbacks to the Burdekin Agricultural College.
The Burdekin campus will now be considered for sale, lease or gifting, and the college will operate out of a new centre.
Ms Menkens says it is another fire sale of Queensland’s assets.
“I welcome the announcement there will be further money invested into quality teaching and learning resources but by selling off the agricultural college complex students are going to lose the ability of practical application, the ability for students to hone their skills in a controlled environment,” she said.
Queensland Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin will meet representatives from the Burdekin Agricultural College today.
A Dalby farmer says he is disappointed by the State Government’s approach to reforming Queensland’s agricultural colleges.
St John Kent says they should have retained ownership of the properties.
“The Government owned a lot of land in this area, Hermitage, Wellcamp, Leslie. Dalby ag, they’re talking about selling off various parts and then buying more land to create a new research and development organisation,” he said.
“[It] sounds like shifting the deck chairs on a sinking ship to me.”