The social basis of sustainable sugarcane production in Australia: preliminary report of a 1998 survey of Australian canegrowers

Grasby, David, Lockie, Stewart, and McAllister, Jim (2000) The social basis of sustainable sugarcane production in Australia: preliminary report of a 1998 survey of Australian canegrowers. Report. James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia.

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1. An industry-wide social survey was carried out in 1998, to which there was a SO percent response rate-a very satisfactory representation of all growers, stratified by mill area.

2. Characteristics of farmers, their families and farms, and their attitudes to sustainable practices for their farms and the industry were recorded and are reported on here in preliminary fashion.

3. Cane growers responding to this survey were, on average, 52 years old and had 27 years experience growing sugar cane. Although this makes farmers as a group old by Australian standards (12 years older than the national adult average),most Australians are considerably older than the national average age by the time they come to control assets in excess of a million dollars, as many farmers do.

4. Farmers in general have less formal education than the general population, and in this case almost 60% of males had completed primary or lower secondary school only. By contrast, only slightly in excess of half the farm women were not educated to a higher level than this. Nevertheless, just greater than one-in-five (both men and women) had tertiary qualifications, but farming, as such, is still designated by its participants as a male domain.

5. Three in every four farmers in cane growing have succeeded their parents into the industry, and nearly half are third generation farmers and more. Still they plan their succession, and still nuclear family is the chief determinant of likely heir-two-thirds planning to hand the property on to their children.

6. Most farms (and attendant cane allotments) are small although average farm size grows larger over time, but some very large farms, and rural estates exist, and the farms are split about roughly equally in terms of whether they supply their cut cane to a grower-owned or a proprietary mill. Eight farms in every ten are family enterprises; nearly two out of every three farms are fully owned and another two out of every nine are partly owned.

7. The most valued sources of information among cane growers are the Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations, the Cane Protection and Productivity Boards, field days, cane growing journals and other farmers.

8. Farmers are intensely aware of issues facing their industry, and their attitudes to environmental concerns- their own and of the general public-show that they regard seriously the stewardship they have over one of the country's great natural resources.

9. Almost all growers believe research into sugar cane production and retention of 'single desk selling' to be highly beneficial to the industry. Opinion about other issues, however, is more divided, and subsequent cross-tabulation and analyses will investigate structural factors underlying commitments of different parts of the industry.

10. The responses have been skimmed to produce this report, but a rich vein of data has been opened by this survey and some time will be needed to report back to the industry all that has been uncovered. Nevertheless, reports are in preparation, and will soon follow, on environmental concerns and commitments of growers, on labour use on farms, and on issues of property and inheritance.

Item ID: 31311
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISBN: 1876679107
Funders: Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Sugar Production
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2016 01:29
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160801 Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960707 Trade and Environment @ 10%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960504 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960601 Economic Incentives for Environmental Protection @ 40%
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