The disconnect between Australia's population and the production of our food and fibre is ever increasing. In a PIEFA survey it was revealed that 75% of students believed cotton was and animal product, 25% believed yoghurt was a vegetable product while only 27% of students were able to identify Salmon as a farmed product. In addition, 40% believed primary production (including fishing) damaged the environment, 43% of students did not link science to production and 55% did not believe the industry was innovative.
Only 26% of teachers surveyed said that they were unfamiliar with any issues related to the fishing industry.
Despite this 100% of primary school teachers and 91% of secondary teachers believed it was important to teach students about food and fibre production.
Therefore it is critical that FRDC support a whole of industry programme that supports teachers to embed food and fibre resources within their teaching and learning.
PIEFA was established in 2007 with bipartisan government support following an extensive series of roundtables and working party meetings supported by the federal Minister of Agriculture.
PIEFA became operational in April 2010 with support from the government, education and industry sectors. The intent of PIEFA was to provide national coordination and leadership to the fragmented primary industries education sector.
PIEFA operates as a national not for profit company, with minimal overheads, governed by a skills-based board of directors with membership from the government, industry and education sectors.
The majority of PIEFAs operational funding comes from the Rural Research and Development Corporations, with 10 RDCs as members currently.
PIEFA has enjoyed strong bipartisan support at a government level with the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources a member and the Labor opposition has recently announced a pre-election commitment of a continued four years membership, if re-elected.
A 2012 survey commissioned by PIEFA and undertaken by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) revealed;
- 75% of year 6 students though cotton socks were an animal product
- 27% of year 10 students thought yoghurt was a plant product
- 45% of students could not identify that bread, cheese and bananas all originate from farmed products
- 73% of students did not identify that Salmon were a farmed product
- 40% of year 10 students thought farming damaged the environment
- 43% of students did not link science to primary production
- 55% of students did not link innovation to primary production
PIEFAs core vision is an Australian community that understands and values its primary industries sector.
PIEFAs Mission is to engage and inform students, teachers and the broader community about the role and importance of primary industries in the Australia economy, environment and wider community, and the career opportunities available within the food and fibre supply chain.
PIEFA provides national leadership and coordination of initiatives to encourage food and fibre education in schools through a partnership between industry, government and educators.
Specifically, PIEFA operates in the following domains; maintenance of a national tripartite network; Federal and State Policy; ease of access to resources for teachers; teacher professional learning; career information for teachers and students.