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A financial analysis of the effect of the mix of crop and sheep enterprises on the risk profile of dryland farms in south-eastern Australia

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  • Hutchings, Timothy R.
  • Nordblom, Thomas L.

Abstract

This study analyses the financial risk faced by representative mixed-enterprise farm businesses in four regions of south-eastern Australia. It uses discrete stochastic programming to optimise the ten-year cash flow margins produced by these farms, operating three alternative farming systems. Monte Carlo simulation analysis is used to produce a risk profile for each scenario, derived from multiple runs of this optimised model, randomised for commodity prices and decadal growing season rainfall since 1920. This analysis shows that the performance of the enterprise mixes at each site is characterised more by the level of variability of outcomes than by the mean values of financial outputs. It demonstrates that relying on mean values for climate and prices disguises the considerable risks involved with cropping in this area. Diversification into a Merino sheep enterprise on 60% of the area marginally reduced the probability of financial loss at all sites. This study emphasises the fact that the variability, or risk, associated with all scenarios far exceeds the likely change in cash margins due to innovation and good management. This analysis shows that innovations need to be assessed more on their ability to reduce costs rather than to increase income, especially when the farms are achieving near the maximum practical water-limited productivity. Further analysis shows that the current static measures of financial performance (gross margins, profit and cash margins) do not characterise the risk-adjusted performance of the various farming systems and almost certainly result in a flawed specification of best-practice farm management in south-eastern Australia.

Suggested Citation

  • Hutchings, Timothy R. & Nordblom, Thomas L., 2011. "A financial analysis of the effect of the mix of crop and sheep enterprises on the risk profile of dryland farms in south-eastern Australia," AFBM Journal, Australasian Farm Business Management Network, vol. 8(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:afbmau:120908
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nordblom, Thomas L. & Hutchings, Timothy R. & Hayes, Richard C. & Li, Guangdi D., 2015. "A Framework for Modelling Whole-Farm Financial Risk," 2015 Conference (59th), February 10-13, 2015, Rotorua, New Zealand 202581, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    2. Cortez-Arriola, José & Groot, Jeroen C.J. & Rossing, Walter A.H. & Scholberg, Johannes M.S. & Améndola Massiotti, Ricardo D. & Tittonell, Pablo, 2016. "Alternative options for sustainable intensification of smallholder dairy farms in North-West Michoacán, Mexico," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 22-32.
    3. Hutchings, T.R., 2013. "Financial risk on dryland farms in south-eastern Australia," Dissertations-Doctoral 204434, AgEcon Search.
    4. Perrett, Edward, 2015. "Are We Killing the Golden Sheep? The Changing Size and Composition of the Australian Sheep Flock: Implications for Production and Profitability," Australasian Agribusiness Perspectives 234412, University of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Land and Environment.

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