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Family or Enterprise? What shapes the business structures of Australian farming?

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Australian farmers navigate their contemporary circumstances through the use of different business and legal arrangements that are shaped by the commercial realities of farming and the aspirations of farm-owning households. In posing the question ‘Family or Enterprise?’, this paper examines the extent to which various household and farm business indicators are associated with different forms of farm ownership, namely sole proprietorships, partnerships, trusts and companies. Results from a postal survey of farm enterprises in Victoria, Australia suggest that both household and enterprise factors contribute to the business structure used, although the strongest determinants appear to be those factors that are less well understood in the rural geographical and sociological literature: household composition, farmer age and farm size. Greater scrutiny of the business instruments deployed by farmers to manage family and enterprise pressures should inform expectations of the fate of family farming in advanced financialised economies.
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Keywords: Australia; Family farming; agriculture; farm ownership; structures of capital

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Monash University, Australia 2: University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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