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Cross Boundary Farming: Can This Challenging Farming Method Save the Australian Family Farm?

  • Year: 2009
  • Author: Muenstermann, Ingrid
  • Journal Name: Rural Society
  • Journal Number: Vol. 19, No. 3
  • Country: Australia

Recent environmental changes and trade liberalisation have significant implications for the way farming will be conducted in future. The number of farming families has decreased by 46% between 1971 and 2006 (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006, Customised Data), therefore the re-evaluation of farming methods seems appropriate. Traditional family farming, co-operative and corporate farming, as well as cross-boundary farming is discussed. The latter is a form of collective farming: it means individual title, but collective ownership and management. These issues will be examined through a literature review and commentary. This system has worked well for many years in Europe (ABC Landline, 2001). In Australia, a group of academics and landholders worked this system successfully for six years; it was called common property resources system (Williamson, Brunckhorst and Kelly, 2003). It encouraged flexibility and shared labour, and there was economic, ecological and environmental success. Why was the system abandoned? Rural communities depend upon the sustainability of the surrounding land and farms, but the persisting drought and degradation of the land has led to a decline in the social and economic viability of life in rural areas. Sustainability requires a re-thinking of the landscape, which, in turn, requires a re-thinking of eco-ethical values and biodiversity, as well as having a holistic approach. Can cross-boundary farming be an approach to save the Australian family farm?

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