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Farming futures at risk

Agriculture Minister John McVeigh talks AgCollege operations with staff member Bradley Whittington.
Agriculture Minister John McVeigh talks AgCollege operations with staff member Bradley Whittington. Simon Green

THE Australian Agricultural College Corporation will work with the State Government to retain student positions and the futures of 4000 students.

AACC executive director Tony Rayner said it was not appropriate to comment on the economic review by accounting firm Ernst and Young, which revealed the corporation was set to lose $6.8 million this financial year.

"The college welcomes the report from Ernst and Young and looks forward to working with (Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) Minister John McVeigh to ensure sustainable agricultural training," Mr Rayner said.

Students set to graduate this year will not be affected by the college audit, according to Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson, who said he would hold stakeholder meetings to minimise the impact to future agricultural students.

"My electorate covers both the Emerald and Longreach AACC colleges," Mr Johnson said.

"Both colleges have residential and farming campuses and are a vital part of the agricultural and pastoral industries in their locality. I welcome any input people may like to offer."

He urged people to approach the review in a positive manner.

Mr McVeigh said in the current financial climate, every dollar must be wisely spent and agricultural training must continue in a "cost-effective and realistic manner".

"Agriculture is one of our four economic pillars and we'll work with industry to ensure the most effective allocation of funding for ag skills training," he said.

Queensland Farmers' Federation CEO Dan Galligan said it was clear agricultural training centres were at a tipping point but skilled workers were needed for the next generation of farmers.

"The government needs to make their long-term objectives and priorities clear," he said.

AACC

 Formed in 2005 by Qld ALP

 4000 students, 170 full-time staff

 Emerald and Longreach the only residential colleges

 Campuses at Mareeba, Dalby, Gatton, Mackay, Burdekin

 Two cattle properties at Blackwater and Narayan


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