Thousands of Australian primary school aged children are set to benefit from a new three-year education program called Kids to Farms, which will give them first-hand experience of the agriculture sector and the paddock-to-plate journey.

The federal government has committed $4.75 million to the Educating Kids About Agriculture: Kids to Farms program with NSW Farmers receiving a $900,000 grant to deliver the program across the state.

The Kids to Farms program is expected to begin in September 2020 and is designed to showcase Australia’s thriving agriculture sector and plant some seeds in young minds about pursuing a career in agribusiness or farming.

Paddock to plate: The program will give kids in metropolitan areas the opportunity to see how food is produced

The grant will allow NSW Farmers to sponsor government, Catholic and independent primary school visits to farms and other primary production worksites to learn about agriculture production, sustainability practices and land stewardship.

The missing link

NSW Farmers’ Policy Director Kathy Rankin says the “missing link” in agricultural education programs is often children being unable to physically visit a farm.

“There are some good activities going on in schools. There are some great resources that have been developed by both educators and industry organisations,” Ms Rankin told the ABC’s Country Hour.

“But often the missing link is the hands on experience of being on the farm and really seeing, feeling and touching all of the things that are happening and because farming is such a distributed activity and happens away from metropolitan areas it is a little bit difficult to be able to connect with the farmers.”

NSW Farmers’ Policy Director Kathy Rankin

Ms Rankin says the program will act as an extension of NSW Farmers’ already existing Visit My Farm initiative which provides health and safety compliance support for farmers when they are approached by school groups wanting to visit their properties.

Visit My Farm

The Visit My Farm website also can provide information to farmers about what sort of information school groups will be hoping they can provide.

“We are also creating an informational booking service which is where farmers can find more information, where they can register their interest and be supported througha project officer to be able to fill out any compliance or regulatory activity around farm safety, biosecurity, health and welfare,” Ms Rankin says.

“It is also about helping farmers understand what the kids are looking for and how they can best engage with them about what is happening on the farm.”

Gaining an early love of agriculture is one way of opening up young minds to considering farm life but just be for them

Young Farmers

The initiative is also supported by NSW Young Farmers which represents and advocates for young people in all areas of agricultural production.

“The Young Farmer network is really keen to also be actively involved in the program,” Ms Rankin said.

“So we are working with Young Farmers to partner or be a resource to help the teachers connect with the agriculture sector as well.”

Federal support

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said it is important that children see the potential of the agriculture sector, especially due to the crucial role it will play coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A key part of this program is to showcase to our kids the breadth of career opportunities available in agriculture,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The kids of today will be the farmers, agri-scientists, livestock agents, biosecurity officers – even ag ministers – of tomorrow.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud

“Australia’s farming sector will lead our recovery out of COVID-19 and there has never been a better time for young Australians to study and pursue a career in agriculture.”

The first Kids to Farms ‘lessons’ are expected to commence later in the 2020 school year.

The program is funded to run for three years, concluding on June 30 2022.

Primary school students from government, Catholic and independent schools across the country will be encouraged to participate in the program.

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