Gender inequality and who inherits the family farm

Katherine Bain and Pluto.jpg

Katherine Bain – Her father says passion, not gender, will be the deciding factor in who takes over the running of the farm.

I have always being proud to say I stand up for what I believe in but when I was approached about this story No country for women: family farms are tough soil for daughters to grow as farmers I ran a hundred miles in the other direction

It was just too close to the bone – from as early as we can remember my sister and I were told my brother would inherit the family farm.

A – because he was male and B because the family surname was the legacy he furthered

In my case despite my brother being an extremely nice person, the fact that he thought he was “entitled” because of A and B effectively destroyed our adult relationship

Super kudos to The Age journalist Neelima Choahan for being dogged in her determination to tell this story 

Quoting from the story in The Age

According to University of South Australia’s Leonnie Blumson​, who is doing a PhD in gender inequality in farming family inheritance, there is a huge disparity in the way sons and daughters are treated.

She says in Australia it is estimated that just 10 per cent of farm successors are daughters.

“It makes the gender wage gap look pretty trivial in comparison,” Ms Blumson says.

“Essentially, sons get the farm, which can be worth millions of dollars, whereas girls tend to just get whatever assets are leftover when the parents die.”

Ms Blumson, who is herself from a farming family, says most farmers are likely to sell the farm if they have a daughter.

As part of her research, Ms Blumson conducted interviews and an anonymous online survey asking farmers’ daughters to talk about their family’s inheritance.

She says one of the hardest things was to get the women to participate. Similarly, few women were willing to speak to The Age about their experience. None would do it on the record.

Ms Blumson says family loyalty often stops women from talking about the gender imbalance.

“Women are conditioned to accept things the way they are and not to speak out,” she says.

“And also speaking out would require them to acknowledge that they have been treated unfairly.”

And mega kudos to the Bain family for being the face of this story – its changemakers like you that ensure my sister and I are an anomaly of the future

“I have grown up on the farm my whole life,” Ms Bain says.

“Helping out dad on the farm and just running around after him, being a shadow for the last 20 years.”

Her role grew from being the main gate opener for her father to helping him muster sheep and move them around.

Her father says passion, not gender, will be the deciding factor in who takes over the running of the farm.

“Katherine was always interested in being outdoors,” Mr Bain says.

“She always had a good eye for livestock, she could pick up a sick sheep in a mob.

“She has always been one-track minded. She wanted to do something in agriculture even when she was quite young. Which path she takes now is up to her.”

When Ms Bain finishes her Bachelor of Business in Agribusiness at the end of this year she will also have a grounding in finance and marketing.

“Every farm is a business,” she says.  “Learning … the ins and out of business, is vital to running a farm.”

Her younger brother, Alexander, 21, is studying architecture.

And though, there is no succession plan in place yet, Ms Bain says it has always been clear which one of the two siblings is more interested in farming.

“I was always the one really excited to go out and help dad from early on,” she says. “Never thought about being anywhere else.

“When you are growing up on the farm you are always outside helping out, you do get dirt in your blood and it does kind of stick with you and you really don’t think about anything else you could do.”

ur generation is better placed to achieve gender equality than any other in the history of humanity. This is our opportunity to grasp, our campaign to join and it is our fight t

You can read more about Katherine here 

Author: Clover Hill Dairies Diary

I started this blog to share farming stories from our family farm Clover Hill Dairies. Over the last six years I have been reminded that life is complex and my blog has morphed with me. It now follows my thoughts, my dreams, my vision, my challenges and highlights