Farm Management: rethinking directions?
Farms and farming are major contributors to the world economy, directly responsible for a large part of GDP. These achievements are not trivial and imply that farms are being managed in reasonably effective ways, else agricultural industries would not be sustained. However has the study of Farm Management within Australia made significant contributions to agriculture or lagged in the background. Is it contributing to better Farm Management or merely cataloguing what has happened? Is it leading or following? During recent years there has been an increasing interest in managing farms more sustainably, with emphasis on issues beyond short-term profitability to encompassing rural communities, ecosystems, biodiversity, ethics of technology and politics. The complexity of management has increased, but Farm Management may not be keeping pace with these changes. This paper reviews aspects of Farm Management and how the discipline / field is viewed by different participants. This will be contrasted with related areas of research that have expanded over recent times. It is argued that Farm Management is more a field than an identifiable discipline and questions are raised about where Farm Management is going. Suggestions are made where future studies in farm management could go, the needs for teaching this subject and what are the challenges to be faced in order to enhance the relevance of Farm Management studies for professional farmers.
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