The nature of farm succession in three New South Wales communities

Judith Crockett - The University of Sydney, Faculty of Rural Management

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

Study that uses one-on-one farmer interviews in the Central West to start to uncover whether family farm succession and continuity remain the norm. Some interesting insights and quotes from family farming members.

What is the problem?

The key focus of this paper is to ask the question whether the emphasis on the continuation of family farming continues as the norm.

Farm generational transfer has been a significant part of rural ideology in Australia throughout our history. However, recent studies have shown that succession is declining in importance. This research seeks to understand this and the implications of the trend.

What did the research involve?

The discussion draws upon data collected in a farming culture study in the communities of Yongala, Crystal Brook and Glenowen in the Central West of NSW.

73 semi-structured interviews were carried out with members of farming families. The average length of interviews was between 2 and 3 hours.

What were the key findings?

  • All but two of the businesses interviewed were being operated as a family business Dominant business structure was partnership (63.4%), following by trust (13.3%) and company (11.1%).
  • Over 41% operated as husband and wife partnerships.
  • Perceived need for a could education for their children was a prim motivator for increasing the productivity and profitability of the farm.
  • No responses incorporated a mention of desiring children to remain on the farm.
  • 74% of respondent indicated they had given though to the long-term future of the farm.
  • Almost all had a succession ‘horror story’ to tell of people they knew.
  • Over 41% indicated their desire for at least one child to take over the farm, 27.5% unsure and 22% against the idea.

Final comment

The paper concludes that although family and children remain of utmost importance, the tradition of handing over the family farm can no longer be considered the norm.

2014 - Australia - Judith Crockett - The University of Sydney, Faculty of Rural Management
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