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2012 Winter - Will corporate agriculture swallow the family farm?

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FPJ0902 - Wilkinson et al., The choices farm families make

Wilkinson, R, Barr, N, Hollier, C (2012), The choices farm families make in Farm Policy Journal, Vol. 9, N.2, Winter 2012, pp. 27-37


For many farmers, the farming game is about providing an acceptable standard of living now and in the future, working the farm full-time, and building a sufficiently large farm to give the next generation a viable career choice. For Victorian farms in 2006, the financial scale required to achieve these objectives was a gross farm income between A$400,000 and A$600,000. Only 15% of Victorian farms are of this scale. Families with farms below this benchmark often have to compromise. They might take off-farm employment, make do with a lower standard of living, or forgo investment in farm growth. This study uses segmentation analysis to explore how these trade-offs are made.From a survey of 1300 Victorian farmers in 2010, several segmentations were developed. The first segmentation was based upon productivity aspirations. Only16% of Victoria’s farmers were planning to expand the physical scale of their operation. Almost half (46%) professed interest in increasing productivity but expressed either disinterest in expansion or constraints to achieve productivity increases. A second segmentation divided farmers according to their income and their dependence upon the farm for that income. More than one-third (39%)were in the low income farm dependent segment. Many farmers in this segments howed an interest in improved farm productivity. The final segmentation examined the trade-off between household consumption, full-time farming and investment. This confirmed that a large proportion of the low-income farm-dependent segment prefer to remain farming despite their low income.A policy objective of increasing agricultural sector productivity alone would be best served by focusing on the small number of large-scale farmers interested in farm expansion and encouraging farm exit amongst the large number of smaller farm businesses. However, productivity can be seen as a tool for pursuing a higher level objective such as economic security or societal well being. Policies focusing on the small productivity gains that can be expected to be achieved by ‘low-income’ and ‘farm-dependent’ farms, may be an efficient strategy to increase both rural sector financial security and societal wellbeing. 



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Farm Policy Journal - Vol 8 No 3 2011 Spring - Full Journal - A private future for food and fibre quality

Farm Policy Journal, Vol. 8, Number 3, Spring 2011, A private future for food and fibre quality, Australian Farm Institute, 76 pp

ISSN: 1449-2210 (print), 1449-8812 (online) 

Historically, public authorities specified safety and quality standards for agricultural products, and provided reassurance to consumers that products were safe. Increasing consumer demands and the rise of food and fibre brands, and retailer brands have led to the development of private quality and safety standards. These private standards are a form of risk management for food and fibre brands, and retailers; but also create barriers to entry and exit for farmers supplying these brands and retailers. The Spring 2011 Farm Policy Journal sheds light on the pros and cons for the farming sector of these new trends – analysing impacts on domestic and international trade and economics. The Journal also provides useful tools for upgrading your knowledge of this topic, including a lexicon, and case studies from China and South-East Asia.


Farm Policy Journal - Vol 9 No 2 2012 Winter - Full Journal - Will corporate agriculture swallow the family farm

Australian Farm Institute (2012), Will corporate agriculture swallow the family farm?, Farm Policy Journal: Vol 9 Number 2 - Winter 2012
ISSN 1449–2210 (Print)
ISSN 1449–8812 (Web)


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