Policy directives in agriculture have long been concerned with encouraging low producing farmers to retire - with limited success. From a healthy ageing perspective, the choice to remain on the farm into advancing years could appear a desirable policy outcome. Yet as farmers age, many with little prospect of inter-generational succession, there is growing concern that some farm families are beginning to experience extraordinary isolation, reduced health and quality of life, and increasing vulnerability with seemingly no choice but to stay on the farm and soldier on.
The John Richards Initiative in Aged Care in Rural Australia hosted a forum on 'ageing farmers', where the issues of healthy ageing and the barriers to retirement were discussed from three different perspectives - the demographic and economic drivers of structural ageing in the farm sector, the cultural and identity issues underlying retirement choices of farmers and the health and well-being implications of ageing on-farm. This article brings these diverse and interdisciplinary viewpoints together to explore the challenges and options for ageing farmers, where the question may be shifting from concerns about 'who will run the farm' to 'who will be there to take care of me'?