Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Churchlands, Western Australia


Faculty of Business


Small and Medium Enterprise Research Centre


McKenzie, F. (1996). The Australian family farm: is it soon to be an illusive myth? Churchlands, Australia: Edith Cowan University.


This paper examines the challenges faced by Western Australian rural enterprises since 1961 and the effects of economic and demographic change on the agricultural industry over the last thirty years.

Increasing capitalisation and technological advances have led to major shifts in the way the business of farming is conducted. There is evidence to suggest that these changes have contributed to an oversupply of agricultural products, the development of large-scale agri-business firms and a general depopulation of the agricultural sector.

The family farm has always been considered the backbone of Australian agriculture but there is evidence to suggest that in this state the number of family farms has halved in the last 35 years. Furthermore, women are leaving that sector at twice the rate of men despite the fact that the number of women owning small businesses in the agricultural industry is increasing.

This paper outlines a number of reasons for this examines the implications of these changes for the industry itself, government policy and society generally in this state.