Succession: Keeping the family farm alive

Succession planning affects farming families around the world, from Australia to the USEach year, proud farmers pass on the family farm to their children, hoping they will nurture a successful, sustainable business. But succession is not an easy issue to deal with. Today, fewer children are willing to take over a farm, with concerns over economic sustainability and the desire to follow careers off the farm oft-cited reasons.

But as the farmer population ages rapidly, one crucial question remains: How to interest the next generation in farming, as the profession becomes more complex, requires ever-greater levels of investment, does not always offer a high business return, and continues to require long, hard days? And the issue of farm succession is not just relevant to the families involved. With fewer farmers, and an aging farmer population cultivating less arable land, farm succession is now of major concern to the world’s food supply.

So how does the situation look around the world?

  • The average age of farmers in the United states was 45 in 1974, rising to 58 by 2007
  • Currently, for every seven farmers above the age of 75 in the United States, only one farmer is under 25
  • For every 350 people in New York, there is only one farmer to provide food
  • Every 20 years the number of people depending on one farmer doubles
  • Over the past 30 years in Australia, the average farmer’s age has increased from 44 to 56
  • While 25% of the Australian population is older than 55, for farmers this share is more than double: 52% of Australian farmers are above 55
  • In the United States, the group of farmers aged over 65 increased by 20% over the past five years, while those below the age of 45 decreased by 14% (partly due to declining numbers of agricultural students)
  • In Europe, only 6% of farmers are under the age of 35

Meet Christina Kress

Christina Kress is a 24-year-old farmer from Paraguay who inherited the responsibility of taking care of an isolated village filled with 3,500 workers and children who depend on her farm and business for their livelihood.