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Australian farm inheritance : new patterns of legal structure in property rights and landholding
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by James McallisterJames Mcallister, B Geno
New circumstances in Australian agriculture require new legal arrangements for landholding and for people who have new aspirations for retirement and succession planning. A recent Australia-wide farm survey of landholding patterns creates space for consideration of these changing property concepts and relationships as they relate to inheritance patterns and the engagement of the next generation in farming. Early studies of land tenure predicted a gradual progression from tenant or share farmer to full owner as aspiring young farmers aged and became more involved in farming and raising a family. This pattern has come under scrutiny as corporate involvement in agriculture accelerates in Western societies. This paper investigates Australian family farmer intentions to pass farm assets on to chosen heirs so that the present family farming system continues intact. Survey data collected from a broader study of a variety of farming industries is used to tease out whether new patterns of legal structure in land and job inheritance are emerging. The findings indicate that different legal structures of property ownership are utilised as legitimate means of protecting farmer values concerned with property, family and inheritance. Further research on inheritance patterns and legal structure in Australia is indicated.