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Recognising the importance of extension networks.

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DAFF06/006SL- 6 March 2006

Recognising the importance of extension networks

The role of agricultural extension networks in building the competitiveness and self reliance of the farm sector was recognised today.

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Sussan Ley said it was critical to learn about 'practice change' through taking a hard look at the tools and approaches used by extension practitioners.

Ms Ley was speaking at the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network's 2006 international conference in Beechworth, Victoria.

"It is a dynamic environment, and one in which the challenge is to make certain we have in place a system that can deliver the best results for primary producers," she said.

"There is no denying Australian agriculture faces a complex mix of challenges.

"However, the Australian Government remains committed to building the profitability, sustainability, competitiveness and self-reliance of the farm sector and agricultural industries."

Ms Ley said there were limits on the amount of government-industry funding available for research and development, and State governments were cutting back on their extension services.

"It is critical for us to better target research and seek to maximise the adoption of outcomes," she said.

"Each of you has a key role to play in facilitating the adoption of technological improvements and changed management practices."

Ms Ley said the Australian Government had committed more than $1 billion to its flagship rural policy package, Agriculture - Advancing Australia, which aims to accelerate people's ability to manage and respond to change.

"The flexibility and demand-driven nature of the FarmBis education and training programmes have proved popular with primary producers," she said.

"More than 150,000 producers across Australia have taken part in FarmBis supported learning activities."

Further media inquiries:

Ms Ley's office: Verity Williams 02 6277 4503 or 0428 213 264 TOP

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