There is considerable debate about increased foreign ownership of farmland and corporate farming in Australia, and the presumed decline of the 'family farm'. However, while overseas and corporate farmers have an important role in Australian agriculture, family farming business entities are not about to be replaced by big business. This paper identifies family farms as having specific strengths compared to other types of business structures involved in agriculture. This analysis suggests that farming families will be the source of a great deal of future agricultural investment in Australia.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Agricultural Census 2011 forms the basis of the work presented here, supplemented with data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), the Australian Tax Office (ATO), and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The analysis considers a range of different aspects of the sector, including the role of farms in the Australian agricultural value chain, the nature of business structures in Australian farming, the changing demographics of Australian farming, the life cycle of farm businesses, and what business health indicators say about the state of family farm businesses.