THE state government announced on Tuesday that it would invest $7.2 million into shearing courses and student accommodation at Victorian agricultural colleges if elected at this month’s state election.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford pledged the state government would invest $1.2 million into the development of Certificate III Shearing courses, while $6 million would be spent to upgrade accommodation at Longerenong, Glenormiston and Dookie agricultural colleges.
The government will aim to have the courses up and running by 2020. The package aims to help combat the shortage of workers in the shearing industry.
“While wool prices have been very good, and wool exports in 2016-17 accounted for the best part of almost two billion dollars. We have a shortage of qualified shearers,” Mr Andrews said.
Maroona shearer Don Rowe said he faced constant difficulties getting enough shearers in to help.
“It’s hard work and the younger generation are not brought up with it. (In) our generation, everyone knew someone who had a farm, you’d do a bit of sheep work and help around the shed. That doesn’t happen these days. It’s foreign to a lot of people,” he said.
Mr Andrews said student accommodation would form a priority system for regional and rural students. He also announced a pledge of $500,000 allocation to continue Young Farmers Scholarship and an additional $500,000 pledge to further the development of digital agriculture.
Labor would launch an inquiry into the council rating system to identify changes to improve fairness and equity.
This is the second funding announcement for Longerenong College, after the state government announced $2.5 million would be allocated for an AgTIDE Demonstration of Agricultural Technology Applications Farm project. The project will establish a $3.6 million digitally-enabled, 1000-hectare demonstration farm to test and analyse new digital agricultural technology.