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Rising prosperity for Australian agriculture industry

2020 NSW/ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Winner, Cressida Cains. Photo by Lean Timms

Westpac’s Agribusiness: Intergenerational Farming Report asked 405 Aussie farmers to spill the beans on life and business – with some surprising results.

Published August 2022

Key take-outs
  • Farmers are community champions and changemakers
  • 81% of farmers are satisfied to extremely satisfied with their farming enterprise
  • 77% of older farmers and 72% of younger farmers say their enterprise is increasing in profitability
  • 74% believe there are now many / unlimited opportunities for younger generations in their family farming business for the future
  • 80% feel a sense of belonging in the local community
  • Farming generations align on the big issues – government action to secure reliable access to water and other critical infrastructures top their priorities


For more on what's changing on the family farm read the full report now.

Westpac Agribusiness: Intergenerational Farming Report (PDF 4MB)

What it means to be manage a family farm is changing rapidly, driven by factors ranging from new farming technology to increased awareness of environmental issues, a new Westpac research report has found.

Today, someone who farms the land is akin to the CEO of a small company or family corporate: their farm is likely to be larger, their enterprise more profitable, their agribusiness management is more sophisticated and their crops or range of livestock more diverse.

“Ten years ago, we had 7,000 hectares,” says Robert Sewell, a broadacre farmer at Wongan Hills, northeast of Perth. “Today we’re actually cropping about 13,500 hectares.

“It used to be that if you grew a two tonne to the hectare crop, you were the king of the district; now we frequently produce four tonnes to the hectare.”

Good times roll for Australian farmers

Farmers are changemakers, practised at responding to market demands. They may even have branched out into a side business, such as a farm stay, to meet the swelling demand of rural or agritourism, expected to contribute $1.8 billion to domestic consumption by 2030.

The good times are definitely rolling across rural Australia, according to the 400+ intergenerational farmers who participated in the Westpac survey.

Record agricultural commodity prices, especially for grain crops, and a demographic shift to rural and regional areas and rising regional investment are making their business and rural life even more attractive.

A total of 77% of the farmers Westpac surveyed say they are optimistic about what the future holds and 74% believe there are unlimited opportunities in their family farm business for the future.

Connected communities

Confirming farmers feel they’re in a good place, 80% reported having a strong sense of connectedness to their local communities.

They are and have always been community champions, who get involved in the life of their town or village, supporting local businesses or helping run the football club.

And they continue to support each other to grow and prosper, like NSW/ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award winner Cressida Cains, co-owner of Pecora Dairy and founder of online platform Dairy Cocoon.

Her not-for-profit platform helps dairy farmers begin their journey up the value chain. “They can become price setters rather than price takers, take control of their businesses and have a strong future for generations to come,” says Cains.

Farming innovation for a bright future

While getting your hands dirty is still part and parcel of life on the farm, better telco services are allowing family farmers to spend more time connecting with technical advisors, agronomists and consultants, and the Internet of Things, rather than doing all the work themselves, the Westpac report found.

A surprise: the latest agriculture technology is not only being embraced by a new generation but by seasoned hands too. In fact, more than 70% of farmers said they were using more and better data to manage their business.

“Our business is built around innovation,” says Sewell. “It eliminates a lot of human error.”

Yes, agricultural operations are changing, as is the mix of those on the land – now just as likely to be under 40 or female as an older male. But, on many issues, from the importance of community to sustainability initiatives, farmers of all generations are on the same page.

Sustainable agribusiness management

Farmers of all ages are also keen to do their part to address climate variability. Westpac found 61% support more accreditation to sustainable farming programs while more than half of older farmers and 64% of younger are generating renewable energy on the property.

There’s an interest in new ideas that will shore up a bright future, and a more diverse contribution to the community and the labour force, with an influx of tree changers thanks to Covid-19. Regional populations increased by 70,900 (0.9%) in 2020-2021 according to the latest Census.

Post-pandemic, and at the junction of a new era of farming for the Australian agricultural industry, regional investment in adequate infrastructure will be important to support farming businesses. But clearly farmers remain thankful for what they have.

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