With the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
The local Federal member for Berowra, Julian Leeser MP organised a morning tea on Friday, 1 March with the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. David Littleproud MP at The Dural Country Club. Twenty local Horticultural business people were in attendance including representatives from the Nursery Industry, Cut Flowers and Orchardists.
This was a hot topic! We see a declining number of students studying horticulture. This is a concern with career pathways not promoted at school. Ten years ago, over 3,000 people were studying Agribusiness courses, now it is down to 300. Discussions revolved around the fact that Horticulture requires a certain skills set needed in smaller businesses’ and Apprentices it seems, are no longer supported by most TAFE’s. Littleproud also discussed the re-introduction of agriculture into high schools which would see a benefit for industry. This should see a larger interest.
Also discussed was the employment of people on VISA, Littleproud said he will look at giving this area an exemption to allow VISA employment to occur.
Many of those who import or export in horticulture see a barrier to industry with faceless people, you can no longer talk about export and import issues.
Littleproud said we need commonsense and enable us to open up trade making it easier for businesses to import/export. If growers have certain issues, they need to make Littleproud aware of these issues so they can be resolved.
Littleproud wants Agriculture to be encouraged to have biodiversity on farms. Property owners will need to plant trees which will become a part of their accreditation which will give them financial rewards for their investment. This will assist nurseries in supplying farms with trees to plant.
Littleproud would like to see the drought proofing Australia with legislation will be lifted for dams and tanks. The federal government money to spend in this area with the De-silting of dams during dry times has funding available for sheep/ cattle farmers. Littleproud wants to open this up for horticulture so funds are available for our businesses to do the same for future proofing.
Overall, the meeting attendees commented on the down to earth nature of the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and they enjoyed the opportunity to attend the meeting.