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Duncan

Duncan Ashby

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Victoria Business > Rural And Regional
To determine how Australian farm succession and productivity can be enhanced through improved leasing practices - UK, USA, Canada
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My Fellowship tour took me through the UK from south of England, north to the Scottish Borders, on to the Canadian Prairies of Saskatchewan and the foothills of the Rockies at Calgary, before heading to the Midwest of the USA in Minnesota, and then south down the Mississippi.

I met with a broad range of professionals working in the rural sector, ranging from Tenant representatives, Estate Owners, Land-Owning Farmers, Tenant farmers, Land Agents, Farm Managers, Farm Business Advisers, Chartered Surveyors (UK), Government Agricultural Officials and Advisers, Farm Economists, Rural Journalists, Investment Fund Managers, Farm Legal Advisers, Farmer Advocates and Farm Contractors.

I would like to thank the Churchill Trust for the amazing opportunity it afforded me to travel and see farm businesses operating in four countries, and to broaden my professional understanding of an area of farm business operation that I believe can continue to be a growing part of the farm business landscape in Australia.

My Churchill Fellowship project focuses on how Australian farm succession and productivity can be improved through enhanced leasing practices. Australian agriculture has an ageing farmer population and a high proportion of small unprofitable farms; at the same time that calls are being made for increased productivity to take advantage of an Asia driven food boom. Leasing can encourage younger farmers to enter the industry; provide increased economies of scale to existing farmers; and encourage the optimal use of precious land resources.

Leasing is not common in Australia (7% of total farm land) in comparison with the USA, Canada and UK. On my Churchill Fellowship trip I studied farm leasing practices and initiatives in these three countries that are tackling many of the same problems Australia faces in order to learn what can be applied in Australia to improve leasing business practices; farm succession; and opportunities for young farmers.

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