Understanding Australian Farm Business Performance


Improving farm productivity and international competitiveness is essential to developing our food industries. The proposed project builds on a tried and tested framework developed by project leader Dr Geoff Slaughter and collaborators for the Australian macadamia industry. The benchmarking techniques in this research proposal have been successfully implemented in the macadamia industry; showing a substantial return to research investment. The benchmarking framework integrates complex resource, management and strategic factors into a relatively simple and efficient presentation for the enduser to adopt. This proposal provides an integrated approach to increase strategic knowledge through a deep understanding of performance, the adoption of benchmarking and best practice. Diverse farming systems [CN1] are accounted for as the project will utilise a robust process to unravel the complex issues to provide a rich picture of Australian agricultural businesses. The research will incorporate a cross section of animal industries, both intensive and extensive, cropping industries including mixed farming and horticulture. The project builds on the work of the Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development’s (ACSBD) AgriBusiness program. A mixed methods approach will be used to develop a framework for business performance, characterising farm businesses in order to understand attitudes and strategic direction. There will be an extensive desktop audit and a series of case studies from farm business with a strong focus on the top 25% of performers, incorporating Interviews and focus groups. Information gathered will provide underlying information and a rich picture of the future direction of Australian agriculture and an understanding of its diversity.


National Rural Issues

Research Organisation

University of Southern Queensland

Objective Summary

The research will gain key insights into the interdependent nature of the relationships between strategy, characteristics and attitudes of farmers. The research and development objectives include: Identification of processes and factors of the top 25% of enterprises, by performance in each respective industry as basis of a framework. Development of mixed qualitative and quantitative benchmarks in the form of KPI’s for farm enterprises for each industry . These include: o KPI’s to discriminate between high performing participants in the highest quartile of enterprises; o Qualitative KPIs to focus on processes in structure, management and strategy, and to identify key combinations of processes that yield substantial benefits to an enterprise; o Quantitative KPIs based on marginal inputs and outputs of decisions, that show interdependence between processes identified in qualitative KPIs; o Identify thresholds and conditions for application of each KPI; and o Identify contingency decisions for users to robustly implement benchmark program. Design a delivery system for Benchmarks to industry producers, including: o An overall architecture for knowledge developed in benchmarks. o Embed emic or derived etic language in project materials o Staged system of decisionmaking to proxy for dynamic processes o Corresponding sign system and evaluation criteria for user to evaluate decisions. Trial delivery system for review from target producer community. Release to target industry. o Direct release to industry. o Indirect release through industry and commercial organisations. Evaluate net social benefit of research. o Undertake costbenefit analysis of research impact. o Evaluate potential to undertake further improvements

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Monday, January 6, 2014

Project Completion Date

Friday, February 27, 2015

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Promoting and maintaining good health

National Priority

Advanced Technology

National Priority

NRI-National Rural Issues


Related publications


Research Summary: Australian Farm Business Performance – insights from effective farm business managers