Population dynamics and succession strategies of rural industry producers

Wilkinson, Roger Lindsay (2009) Population dynamics and succession strategies of rural industry producers. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Sheep farming in Australia has a long tradition, built up over several generations, of inheritance of the family farm, the occupation of sheep farming and the personal identity around being a sheep farmer. This tradition appears to be under threat, due to a combination of hard times and the long-term and inexorable decline in the terms of trade. I examined this threat to the continuation of family farming in Australia’s sheep industry by describing the demographic structure of the industry, documenting the structural changes and questioning whether the changes actually matter. The work involved demographic analysis of data from recent censuses of population and housing and in-depth interviews with sheep farming families. The average age of Australia’s sheep farmers is increasing, caused mainly by the decrease in entry of young people to the industry. This phenomenon is not confined to Australia’s sheep industry but is widespread and long-term through the industrialised world. Also, as some areas focus on agricultural production and others on amenity consumption, the rural landscape is changing. The changes to the structure of Australia’s sheep industry and the nation’s rural landscapes are driven by substantial forces that cannot be resisted easily. This has implications for policy-makers, extension agents and farm families.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/1943
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 300000 Agricultural, Veterinary and Environmental Sciences
Keywords rural industry producers, population dynamics, succession strategies, family farming, sheep farming, Australia
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