The general movement of Australia’s population towards cities threatens regional town viability. Migration of young people away from rural areas causes ‘brain drain’, a loss of skills and a reduction in knowledge transfer and succession. Fewer young people are entering agriculture and the loss of young people to country areas reduces the number of children taking over the family farm.
Over the last 40 years the number of commercial farms in Australia has nearly halved from approximately 200,000 in the 1950s. Simultaneously the average area of these farms has increased by almost 50 per cent, from 2,800 hectares to 4,100 hectares.
A skills shortage in agriculture, and in regional areas more broadly, threatens the sustainability of rural farms.
There is a disconnect in the market: usually younger would-be farmers unable to afford farm ownership; older, asset rich (relatively) existing farmers looking for succession plans; the need for reinvigoration of the sector. This is the disconnect we looked at. The Cultivate Farms approach to enable young families to own a farm in turn hopes to attract more young people to regional communities.
The rate of farmers aged over 65 exiting farming is low. As a result, since 1991 the population of farmers aged over 65 has increased by 55 per cent.
The farming workforce is ageing with fewer young people willing to take over family farms. At the same time, the need for skills in business management, people management and innovation adoption is increasing.
The transfer of land from one generation to the next is a difficult task which has not been well executed for some time. We think what we are doing at Cultivate Farms can provide a new solution to this problem, making it easier to get families into and out of farming and ensure our communities thrive.
Sam Marwood is a co-founder at Cultivate Farms