A woman is a major decision maker in more than 60% of regional and agricultural businesses in Australia – that’s what we know from our tens of thousands of customers in regional and rural areas. So while women only make up 50,000 of the 250,000 jobs in agribusiness, they are where it counts – at the top deciding the strategic, product and financial direction of the businesses that support that employment.
This is especially true in family run businesses. Recently the 2012 Australian Year of the Farmer campaign surveyed 2,000 Australians. They found that now just as many women consider a career in agribusiness as men do, and are just as likely to recommend it to their children, even though it’s not an easy career. We hope that means more and more women entering the workforce on the land.
A career and business in agriculture brings with it many challenges – globally, locally and personally.
On the global level, agribusinesses are highly dependent on the global demand for their product, and the Aussie dollar. Most export is based off the US dollar, so any fluctuations require exporters to manage the currency risk – either on their own by taking on the risk, or by hedging their risk with financial products such as options and swaps.
On a local level, mother nature affects crop with oscillations between droughts and floods. In some places (like QLD and VIC) heavy rainfalls have damaged crops so much so that it caused losses of over $2billion. Even where the crop was not damaged, much of the stock could not leave the port in Brisbane due to delays.
And on a personal level, business owners need to manage the labour intensity, seasonality in cash flow, and the requirement to continue innovating the production process in the face of downward price pressure.
They face all these challenges and still keep the industry growing each year. So even when the fields may not be gold, these women and their contributions are.
In this discussion paper we’ve looked at Women in Agriculture, featuring insights from the dairy, land and water industries.
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