New entrants to Australian agricultural industries


There is an ongoing public debate over food security and the future demographic stability of the farm sector. This debate is not well informed by the any recent demographic statistics other than a simple calculation of the median farmer age, nor by an undertsanding of how the farm sector has restructured over the past two decades. The last analysis of the demographics of Australia's farm sector was undertaken with 2001 data. Since then there has been an asset price bubble in the land market, the babyboomer farmer cohort has reached retirement age, the Australian dollar has risen in value to parity with the $US, there has been a financial crash and a decade long drought in large parts of agricultural Australia, particularly the MurrayDarling Basin. Each of these influences may well have reshaped the demographic structure of our farm population. This project will use existing ABS and other data sets to provide a definitive examination of the restructuring of the farm sector over the past 40 years, of its changing demographic structure and entry and exit patterns in agriculture by sector and region. The current demographic structure will be definitively described. This analysis will be tested with peak agricultural industry bodies and implications for future policy will be explored.


National Rural Issues

Research Organisation

Department of Environment Land Water and Planning

Objective Summary

The main outcome will be a definitive analysis and interpretation of the demographic structure of the farm sector and the nature of current and past entry to farming. This will be based upon recent and historic data sets including the ABS Census of Population and Housing, the Australian Agricultural Census, ABARES's Farm Survey and other data sets that may be relevant.

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Project Completion Date

Monday, September 30, 2013

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Promoting and maintaining good health

National Priority

Adoption of R&D

National Priority

NRI-National Rural Issues


Related publications


New entrants to Australian agricultural industries –Where are the young farmers? Project summary