Farmers are getting smarter about business and so are their offspring, as the concept of ‘living off the land’ in order to preserve the family asset reaches new heights.

Story By Gretel Sneath

Once upon a time, it was almost a given that sons would stay on the farm, while daughters would leave upon marriage – ideally to the bloke from the property next door. But the family tree is branching out like never before.
“Over the past two decades, Australian farming families have become increasingly dependent on off-farm income to maintain their standard of living or meet costs associated with the farming enterprise,” says rural resilience officer Sarah Goulden, who works for the Department of Primary Industries in western New South Wales. “Some farms simply couldn’t be viable without supplementary income – and those households with diversified means of generating additional income are often in a more robust financial position. This, in itself, is changing what the future of Australian farming looks like.”
Economies of scale and the globalisation of commodity markets are among the complex issues influencing the strength of a farming enterprise, but sometimes it’s a simple case of wanderlust that is luring the next generation beyond the farm gate – and their entrepreneurial streak will ensure that it won’t swing shut in a hurry.

This Story is from Issue #99

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2015