The Family Farming Culture of Dairy Farmers: A Case-Study of the Illawarra Region, New South Wales

Publication Name

Sociologia Ruralis


Since the 1980s, many parts of rural Australia have experienced persistent financial difficulties. However, there is a lack of account on how farmers have improved business performance while maintaining traditional farming culture. By focusing on dairy farmers in the Illawarra region in New South Wales, Australia, this study examines the evolution of family farming culture under global agricultural change. Dairy farming dominates Illawarra agriculture, and has been constantly pressured by neoliberal policy reform and adverse market conditions. This study draws on public data, semi-structured interviews, and participant observation. In recent decades, dairy farming has shown a trend of declining farm numbers. A long-standing culture of family farming has existed in the Illawarra and continues to shape farmers’ lifestyle and business. Farmer interviewees shared this culture, and continued farming partly for non-economic reasons. However, under economic pressures farmers both compromised some elements of this traditional farming culture, and drew on the strategic value of other elements.

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University of Wollongong



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