A critical skills shortage has developed which threatens the ability of the agricultural sector to continue to grow and meet increasing global demand for food and fibre.
On 19 September 2011 the Senate referred the following matters to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee for inquiry and report by 1 March 2012:
- All aspects of higher education and skills training to support future demand in agriculture and agribusiness in Australia be examined, including:
- (a) the adequacy and priority given to funding in the agriculture and agribusiness higher education and vocational education and training (VET) sectors by federal, state and territory governments;
- (b) the significant decline in agricultural and related educational facilities in the past decade, including reasons and impacts;
- (c) solutions to address the widening gap between demand and supply for higher education and VET sector graduates in agriculture and agribusiness in Australia;
- (d) the impact of this shortage in terms of agriculture research, including research into climate change adaptation and sustainable agricultural techniques, bio-security and food security;
- (e) the economic impact on Australia's terms of trade and reputation as a trusted supplier of high quality foodstuffs to world markets;
- (f) ways to further incorporate animal welfare principles in agriculture courses; and
- (g) any related matters.
On 27 February 2012 the Senate extended the reporting date until 8 June 2012. On 8 June 2012 the committee tabled an interim report in the Senate. This is the committee's final report.