Report Synopsis

Raising women to farm. A study of daughter succession in a changing family farm environment

Katrina Sasse

While initiatives for women in agriculture in Australia have been growing in popularity, none have focused on building the capacity of farm daughters to become farmers. Demand for food is rising and agricultural technology is advancing rapidly, but many family farms will cease to exist in the coming decades unless farm children, particularly daughters, become more engaged with farming. Daughters are keen to gain farming skills and knowledge and they want to learn how to farm, but while daughters may study agriculture and go on to work in the industry, daughters are generally not returning to become farm successors.

This research involved two months of farm visits in USA, Canada, Netherlands, Germany and Denmark and over 50 interviews with farmer’s daughters and some agribusiness consultants, academics, and private and public-sector managers in the agricultural industry exploring the topic. Questions for daughter successors were open-ended to give daughters maximum opportunity to reflect on their pathways to family farm succession. The interviews allowed the author to understand the common characteristics for daughter-succession as well as possible reasons why there are so few daughter successors globally. For example, “Tell me about your journey in agriculture”, “what are your thoughts on (a particular issue or challenge)?”, “Why do you think other daughters are not interested in returning to their family farm?” Listening and sharing the stories, as well as recounting the author’s own, it was clear there were remarkable similarities between the experiences of daughters in agriculture across the globe.

This report speaks of the need for a paradigm shift in agriculture involving structural changes to the way people think and make decisions about succession. The report shares the voices of role model daughter successors as scenarios for women wanting to tackle the management and ownership of their family farm and various perspectives from women who are role modelling change, including a young woman who became the Danish Farmer of the Year following the purchase of her own dairy farm. 

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