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Longerenong College receives $578,000 from state government to deliver new agriculture skills and training program  

Source: Jade Bate, The Wimmera-Mail Times. Pictures: Samantha Camarri

LONGERENONG College has received a funding boost of $578,000 to deliver a new agriculture skills and training program.

The state government gave the funding to Birchip Cropping Group as a contribution towards the first stage of the Agriculture Technology Innovation, Development and Extension program.

AgTIDE will help develop commercialisation of on-farm technology and was identified as a key priority by the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership.

It is one of four components of a project proposed by the partnership to help further develop agriculture technology.

The program will be integrated in the college's already existing courses, including the Advanced Diploma of Agribusiness Management, Certificate IV in Agriculture and Diploma of Agronomy.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford visited the college on Wednesday morning to announce the funding boost.

She said the new program would greatly benefit the Wimmera’s farming industry.

“We’ve done business cases and have tested all this rigorously, as we always do before we allocate government funding,” she said.

“It suggests that this (program) will increase grain farm agriculture financial benefits by $170 million per year in the Wimmera Mallee region alone.

“The project will ensure Victorian growers and students continue to be the world’s best at grain production. The results that the people in this region achieve are extraordinary.”

Ms Pulford said it was important to note that the AgTIDE project wasn’t exclusively for students.

“We’re going to take people no matter how old they are and no matter how many years it has been since they were last in a classroom,” she said.

"This important collaboration with Longerenong College and our Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership will ensure our growers and next generation of producers have the technology and tools they need to thrive.

“There’s been a lot of work to get to this point and I thank everyone who has been involved.”

Longerenong College head of campus John Goldsmith said he was thrilled with the announcement.

"We're very excited; it's great news not just for the college but for the region," he said.

"This will mean we'll be able to implement new training opportunities in existing courses, as well as allow us to develop short courses for farmers and other professionals."

Mr Goldsmith said the next step was to develop specific course content to incorporate AgTIDE.

"An industry reference group will be put together to develop the course contact," he said.

"It will take a fair few months to develop. We hope the course content will be completed by 2019."

The education and training component of AgTIDE will cost a total of $770,000.

Further financial contributions will be made by the Birchip Cropping Group, Federation University, Melbourne University and Skillinvest.

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