Agriculture students are missing an opportunity to mingle with an exciting new beef industry, changing for the better, but teachers say their curriculum is outdated as the cost of steer calves has skyrocketed out of proportion. Unless the Ministry of Education provides more funding, there will be a generation of untrained young people and an industry crying out for help.
With the growing popularity of hoof and hook competitions, the cost of entry is making it more difficult for school children to participate in the sport, says Tim Baylis, Dorrigo’s breeding agent, who has been involved in the steer movement – with Limousin calves. in particular – all her life, and whose daughters also attended the youth program.
With prices being paid at today’s top sellers, double the current weaner prices, he says “schools are doing fine.
“Traditionally, breeders were happy to donate to schools, but today the temptation to auction is too great. I’m worried as someone in the industry. If we don’t support school programs, the next generation that emerges in agriculture could be in trouble.. It’s all about young people in this industry.A lot of auctioneers have gone through the school curriculum.
Mr. Baylis pointed out that the big agricultural companies – Nutrien and AACo – were in the market to hire young people, but if educators continue to cut funding for industrial training through on-farm education at the school, the agricultural program “then I think we’re going to have a problem.”
Passionate agricultural educator Gavin Saul, program manager at Kempsey High School, said he’s frustrated with funding cuts and increased red tape around workplace health and safety that have limited his program extracurricular by more than half.
“I find it difficult because it is up to us to ensure that the next generation receives a practical education so that they can meet our skills shortage,” he said.
By its nature, agricultural studies are a successful collaboration between education and industry. However, recent measures to protect students by partially removing them from animals have had a negative effect.
“Not connecting with industry is crazy because that’s exactly what is needed,” Saul said, noting that the key to education success was the freedom for agricultural teachers to make decisions. about their program. “The agriculture curriculum has been around for decades and it needs to be reckoned with to meet the demands of industry. Collaboration and connection between industries and schools is so critical if we are to match agriculture education at scale. Vocational training has a lot to offer, but for it to work, it needs continued support from the ministry.We need collaboration more than ever.
Another aspect of school agriculture cuts has been the impact on the mindset of rural children, who cannot excel in their chosen passion in school due to limitations.
Meanwhile, the price of potential show calves continues to climb as more and more non-royal encounters, both on the hoof and on the hook, attract people eager to advance their sport.
“Led steer has become a very competitive sport, like campdraft and trimming,” said Shad Bailey, agent for Glen Innes, which holds an annual sale of potential steers and has a record prize this year of $6,000. .
“If you want a good one to compete and win, you’re going to spend some money. Gone are the days of you feeding a calf and watching a show. Now there are multiple hoof events, especially in southern Queensland. Lots of prize money and buyers are looking for good calves.”
Mr Bailey is donating his time to Holy Trinity Catholic School in Inverell and will be supporting Glen Innes High next year when his son attends. The Colin Say and Co steer show in September will have a special division with cash prizes for schools.
“I’m a big advocate for kids and steers because it’s a pathway to farming, but schools have a lot to answer for when it comes to funding their programs,” he said.
“Schools need to be competitive. Kids don’t benefit from directed leadership if they stand in the back line. And it costs as much to feed a mediocre calf as it does to feed a good one. $6,000 was our best price this year but a lot of steers were selling for $3,000 to $4,000, it costs $2,500 just to buy a weaned steer at the rummage sale.
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