Farm exit programs

In The Australian this morning the government’s doubling of grants under farm exit programs is trumpeted and Dennis Shanahan seems to be unaware that such programs have existed for a very long time. In fact they have existed for decades and the evidence is that they have limited effectiveness in encouraging people to leave farming. Linda Botterill’s paper Policy Approaches to Farm Exit shows this clearly, she finds that take-up is low, that many who take up the grants would have left anyway, and that sometimes they are taken up by more efficient producers. Agrarian ideology she concludes remains a strong factor influencing farm behaviour. Journalists’ ignorance of rural Australia is not restricted to indigenous areas.  Howard pays confused heed to agrarianism in his claim that most will stay on their farms.

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