Saturday, October 8, 2022

Shock school study reveals need for farm lessons: NSW Farmers

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NSW Farmers’ Association, Media Release, 20 September 2022

An Australian university has discovered four in five primary school students have no idea how modern milk is produced.

The survey of more than 5000 Australian primary and secondary students found many had outdated ideas about where food came from, with the majority thinking cows were still milked by hand.

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee chair Colin Thompson said he could hardly blame the students for their lack of knowledge, with Australia increasingly urbanising and losing its farming connections.

“Once upon a time cows were milked by hand, but commercial dairy operations are a pretty high-tech affair these days,” Mr Thompson said.

“A lot of these young people probably want to grow up to work in technology or robotics, and don’t realise the opportunities that exist in agriculture to do just that.

“We need to do more to teach students where their food comes from, and to value the local farmers who produce that food.”

With a growing global population and food scarcity on the rise around the world, boosting agricultural productivity was seen as a necessity by the industry.

Georgia Campbell from NSW Farmers, who delivers the popular Kids To Farms program, said when school students realised they could one day make a living flying drones or using robots on a farm, their eyes lit up.

“It’s so great to see these students come to a farm expecting to see one thing and then learning it’s a fascinating industry with lots of potential,” Ms Campbell said.

“There are so many misconceptions out there about farming being this simple, low-tech thing, but the reality is it’s a specialised profession.

“Once they get a glimpse of what agriculture is about it’s like the lights get switched on, and that’s exactly what Kids To Farms is designed to do.”

The Kids to Farms program, a partnership between NSW Farmers and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, aims to give primary school students two agricultural experiences by the age of 12.

To date, more than 3200 students have benefitted from this opportunity, but Mr Thompson said there was a clear need to do more to bridge the knowledge gap.

“We’ve just had this federal Jobs and Skills Summit, and we need to remember that today’s kids will be tomorrow’s workers,” Mr Thompson said.

“Getting students exposed to the reality of agriculture and all of the new technologies emerging – they will learn that tomorrow’s farmers will be coders and technicians and engineers as well.

“I’d love to see more programs to bring students face-to-face with farming, and help dispel some of myths and stereotypes still hanging around.”

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