Research to provide insight into future of family-run farms.
ANZ and the University of Adelaide Business School have partnered to conduct a major study into the issues impacting the future of Australia’s family-run farms. The three-year research project, ‘Survival of Family Farms: Capital Raising and Credit Access’, focuses on succession planning for family farms, the development of options to ensure their sustainability and farmers’ access to credit and appropriate financial management practices.
In a three year study sponsored by the ANZ bank and the Australian Research Council, Business School researchers will determine whether farm management and ownership structures influence a family-run farm’s ability to access competitive financial support.
PhD candidate Andrew Harrison, who is conducting the study under the supervision of the Business School’s Professor Ralf Zurbruegg, and Dr Jean Canil, as well as the Agribusiness School’s Professor Randy Stringer, says that it has become increasingly difficult for family farms to maintain their market position in the past decade.
“In the past ten years we’ve seen a number of co-operatives trying to take over family farms,” Andrew says. “As they rapidly gain market share many family-run farms are finding it impossible to compete.”
“The family farm is an Australian icon. They battle flood, drought and disease as well as a changing climate, and with limited access to financial resources it is a pretty tough slog.
“Their future success depends on them having the same level of access to financial support and credit as their competitors.”
The outcomes of the study are expected to form the basis of advice to farmers on how to manage succession planning, how to better access capital and how to increase awareness of good financial management practices that will lead to a long term future for their business.
“The farming industry is an ever-changing environment and farmers may not have adapted their overall financial management strategy, instead allowing change to unfold without preplanning,” Andrew says.
“We’re trying to determine where the gaps are so that we can give farmers specific advice.”
The study is a joint initiative between the Business School and the ANZ Banking Group. It will be conducted in two parts, the first stage a market survey and the second a round of in depth interviews with farmers.
“Participants will receive an individual report analysing their current financial management practices and will receive comparative analysis of their responses against the ‘benchmark’ farmer,” Andrew says. “It is a real incentive for people to get involved in the study.”
The study commenced in late 2009 and has had the support of the team at ANZ, including Land Integration Team Product Manager Travis Morgan, Head of Agribusiness Development John Redpath and State Agribusiness Manager Stephen Radeski.
“The ANZ team have provided the invaluable networks and knowledge of the agribusiness industry essential to us moving forward with the study,” Andrew says.