John Noonan1, Hamish Gow2

1 Senior Lecturer, Agribusiness Management, Curtin University

2 Professor of Agribusiness, Director, Business Innovation and Strategy, Te Puna Whakatipu: Transforming Agrifood Business, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Massey University


Globally, tertiary institutions are struggling with how best to respond to the growing industry demand for Agribusiness graduates. Mainstream ‘business colleges and schools’ are potential candidates to deliver agribusiness programs. Firstly, we describe what agribusiness scholarship is, then what type of curricula and teachers underpin good scholarship. Historically, more successful agribusiness programs, evolved from agricultural colleges and land grant universities. Based on literature review, case study and personal experience, we consider prospects for delivery of agribusiness programs by mainstream business colleges and schools. In identifying and discussing sixteen (16) factors,   we conclude that, except in all but a very few isolated instances, business schools have poorer understanding of the complexity of agribusiness and farm management scholarship.  Furthermore, business schools are often ill equipped in the underpinning philosophical requirements for agribusiness education and training. We suggest a major change in philosophy, built around inductive multidisciplinary delivery capacity is essential for most mainstream business colleges and schools to be appropriate vehicles for agribusiness and farm management scholarship.


John Noonan is experienced in teaching agriculture, agribusiness, farm management and science at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels and has consulted, taught and led training across a number of disciplines in Asia, Australasia, the Middle East and North America. John is a grandaunt in Agricultural Science majoring in Agricultural Economics, he also has post graduate qualifications in Education, Agricultural Extension and Natural Resource Management. Currently, in addition to teaching undergraduate agribusiness, delivering industry short courses and leading agricultural extension and outreach programs, he is preparing a PhD dissertation by supplication on the nexus between ‘wicked problems’, strategic management and planning and the adoption of innovations by farmers’.

Hamish Gow has served as a teaching academic at Cornell, Illinois and Michigan State in the United States and KU Leuven, Belgium, in Colleges/Schools of Agriculture and Business, teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level. He has researched in the areas of International market entry strategies; Foreign Direct Investment; Inter-organization business relationships; Entrepreneurial, marketing and financial innovation in Subsistence Markets; New institutional economics; Food safety, food security and governance systems for the global agri-food system; International agricultural development; and Public Private Partnerships.


Sally Murfet 

Inspire AG, Tasmania, Australia.



Many of the conversations in the agriculture sector have centred on the challenges of attracting and retaining human capital, particularly at mid-level management. This Paper considers the interconnections between strategic human resource management and its alignment to the broader business objectives. As smaller farms are gradually being acquired by larger corporate farming businesses to achieve scale, smaller operations are competing for the same talent as the more significant players. To improve successful strategic human resources outcomes, agricultural employers need to:1. Understand future trends that will inform strategies about how to attract, retain and develop human capital.
2. Acknowledge that growth of the sector is dependent on recruiting smart, motivated and adaptive people; and
3. Becoming an ‘industry of choice’ for current and potential employees.

The challenge of growing the farmgate value of Australian agriculture to a $100 billion sector by 2050 is a complex and multi-dimensional equation that requires the industry’s workforce to navigate emerging trends both internally and externally. Ultimately, the growth relies on a commitment from industry employers to professionalise the approach to managing and developing talent as a matter of priority.

Key Words: Workforce, Strategic, Human, Resource, Management.


Anne Elizabeth Dooley1 and Iona Anne McCarthy2

1Perrin Ag Consultants Ltd, Palmerston North, New Zealand

2College of Business, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand



Farm succession planning is becoming increasingly complex requiring technical and process consultancy input from a range of rural professionals. However, despite the impact RPs have on succession planning, research on RPs’ farm succession consultancy is scarce. A case study with six rural professionals experienced in succession planning consultancy was conducted to seek information on farm succession consultancy roles and processes. This paper reports on the processes of the four who facilitated the entire process.  All four incorporated the aspects recognised as being important in succession consultancy. However, there was considerable variation between their processes in the manner in which they processed through the steps, how they addressed issues, and managed people dynamics, their time frames and their emphasis on certain aspects. Their professional roles, client relationships, client’ expectations, their beliefs, skills and knowledge, confidence and background all contributed to these differences. This variability in their process suggests that defining a prescriptive process for effective succession planning consultancy beyond general guidelines is impractical. A range of approaches is likely to be effective, although some practices could be more effective than others and this may be worth further exploration.


Dr Liz Dooley is a Senior Consultant (Research) for Perrin Ag Consultants Ltd based in Palmerston North, New Zealand. She has previously worked in farm management and agribusiness research roles for The Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management (Massey University), where the work for this paper was undertaken, and AgResearch Ltd.


John P. Hewlett1, Jeffrey E. Tranel2, and Trent Teegerstrom3

1University of Wyoming, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Senior Extension Educator

2Colorado State University, Regional Extension Specialist

3University of Arizona, Regional Extension Specialist and Associate Director of Tribal Extension




Ag Help Wanted is an educational guidebook designed to assist every person who currently manages or expects to manage human resources on farms, ranches, nurseries, dairies, and other agricultural operations. The book can be used as a source of ideas for improving management policies or practices, an occasional reference in coping with problems that arise, or a base for systematic study of human resource management in agriculture. It presents principles, practical examples, regulatory considerations, and leads to more references that all help equip managers to make choices that are reasonable, legal, and ultimately effective for both their businesses and the people they employ.

Ag Help Wanted components include: the Ag Help Wanted guidebook in both printed and digital (PDF) formats and an online companion website (AgHelpWanted.org) that provides: links to book content, content highlights (English/Spanish), support links to federal, state, and other supporting agency documents/websites, and video clips offering nine sets of brief vignettes that illustrate approaches to one-on-one communication in problem work situations.


John Hewlett is a Ranch/Farm Management Specialist at the University of Wyoming and member of the regional RightRisk and Risk Navigator teams. He also coordinated past efforts of the regional WIRE program. He grew up in Washington State, where he worked eight years (four as foreman) on a large stocker-cattle/crop operation. John holds a BS degree in Agricultural Business from Montana State University and a M.S. degree in Agricultural Economics from Oregon State University. He came to the University of Wyoming, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in 1987. Since then he has been involved in a number of state and regional extension programs, receiving two Agricultural & Applied Economics Association awards for professional excellence, five Western Agricultural Economics Association awards for outstanding extension programs, three Western Extension Directors awards of excellence, two UW Cooperative Extension awards for creative excellence, the Jim DeBree Excellence in Cooperative Extension award, a National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service award, the Wyoming Association of County Agricultural Agents Outstanding Agricultural Extension Educator award, and nine other regional or national awards.


Iona Anne McCarthy1, and Anne Elizabeth Dooley2

1College of Business, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

2Perrin Ag Consultants Ltd, Palmerston North, New Zealand




Research on how rural professionals work is limited, with even less on their succession planning roles and processes. In farm succession planning, rural professionals work together to provide knowledge and skills from their respective fields. While accountants, lawyers and bankers are routinely involved, farm consultants are often overlooked as a source of succession planning advice and support. Case studies were conducted with six experienced rural professionals, including three farm consultants, to better understand how they worked with farm succession clients. This paper discusses the farm consultants’ succession planning roles through contrasting their views and processes. The farm consultants contributed to succession planning at all stages of the process. They often had stronger people and facilitation skills than other rural professionals for working with family and leading the process, know their clients and their businesses well, and already contributed to regular strategic planning. They provide objective advice and, have the expertise to identify and help implement business growth strategies over time to facilitate viable intergenerational transfer. Hence, it can be questioned whether greater awareness of consultants’ potential contribution is required by rural professionals and their farmer clients, and whether industry organisations have a role in raising this awareness and possibly accreditation.


Iona McCarthy is a Senior Lecturer in rural valuation in the School of Economics and Finance at Massey University. She is a registered valuer and farmed in partnership with her husband for 25 years. Her research focus in recent years has focused on farmland values and returns and farm management.


Mike Stephens

Director Meridian Agriculture




In Australia there are 52,140 broadacre (sheep, beef cattle and crop) farms. Few of these farms have been retained in the ownership of the same family for three or more generations.  The majority are small and only thirty percent or 15,000 have any real chance of succession from a financial perspective.

Following a literature review it became apparent that whilst there have been many studies on succession and farm business management, few if any, had compared the competencies, attributes, attitudes, skill of the owners of the businesses which have remained in the same family with those which have not

The aim of the study was to contrast farm businesses which are continuing to and beyond the third generation with farm businesses which have not been retained by the family or have been retained but are no longer viable.The case study method was chosen to conduct the research because it offered the opportunity to contrast and compare businesses of a similar size operation in a similar climatic and the same economic environment.

The key attributes and actions of the people in the continuing businesses include;  planning  for succession long before they developed a succession plan,  team work, a shared belief that the dual aims of succession and the satisfaction of self-interest of non-farming family members is possible and agreement on the end game.


Richard Soffe1, Matt Lobley2

1Duchy Rural Business School, Chudleigh, Devon, United Kingdom

2Centre for Rural Policy Research, Exeter University, UK, Devon, United Kingdom



The topic of handing on the family farm to the next generation does not appear to become any easier. Many techniques have been used to aid discussions, tax and legal planning.  The use of simulations with professional actors role playing difficult scenarios has been tried with success across four countries of the UK over a two year period. The presentations and workshops resulted in increased uptake up of professional services to discuss the details of succession planning.

The events used a package of videos, powerpoint and discussion to catalyse succession discussion.


Richard Soffe is Director of the Rural Business School (RBS) at Duchy & Bicton Colleges,UK and he is also Chairman and Director of Rural Business Research, UK. RBS works with 18,000 farmers and rural businesses across SW England.In his role as Director at RBS, Richard works in partnerships, with the, University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research, University of Plymouth. He studied Agriculture at Seale Hayne, University of Plymouth and gained a Masters Degree in Management and Marketing at Cranfield University. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies of England, Wales, N.Ireland and Scotland.Richard is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at University of Exeter and works with staff in the Centre for Rural Policy Research both on combined research projects and the Farm Business Survey (FBS). He joined the Leadership for the 21st Century Programme; Harvard University, USA and has been invited back to guest lecture at Harvard. Richard has edited the standard work in Agriculture for students, namely The Agricultural Notebook and recently co-authored ‘Agriculture’ from Oxford University press 2016. Richard is Course Director for the prestigious ‘International Rural Leadership programme’ for the Worshipful Company of Farmers and was formerly the Director of Professional Development at the University of Plymouth.


Shida Rastegari Henneberry 1, Riza Radmehr2

1Director of the Master of International Agriculture Program, Regents Professor of Agricultural Economics, Don & Cathey Humphreys Chair in International Studies; College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma State University, USA

2Ph.D. Candidate of Agricultural Economics, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran; Visiting Scholar at Oklahoma State University, USA



Internships have become an increasingly important and inseparable part of many educational degree programs. A good example is the Master of International Agricultural degree Program (MIAP) at Oklahoma State University. The completion of a meaningful hands-on international experience is a critical and required component of the MIAP degree. Understanding the impact of the international experience/internship on enhancing the students’ academic and social learning is important in designing a curriculum that well-prepares students for the future workforce needs. Hence, the objective of this study is to measure the impact of the international experience component of the degree on students’ preparation for their future career. This study analyzes primary data collected through an online survey instrument.  The survey was sent to 120 MIAP Alums and Students. Forty-five usable responses were received, producing a 37% response rate. The results show that the international experience had a positive and significant impact on students’ personal, interpersonal (social), academic, employment preparation (job specific), and civil effect.


Dr. Shida Henneberry, Director of the OSU Master of International Agriculture Program, has been advising graduate students, cultivating international internship opportunities, developing curriculum, and securing monetary resources for the program since 2010. In addition to serving as the Director of MIAP, Dr. Henneberry is also appointed as a Regents Professor of Agricultural Economics and holds the Humphreys Endowed Chair in International Studies at OSU. Dr. Henneberry has established a nationally and internationally recognized record of global education in the areas of agricultural market development, food demand and nutrition analysis, international trade, food security, and effective pedagogy; with over 100 publications in these areas and another 100 selected, invited, and keynote speeches. She has taken a holistic approach to her teaching, bringing her research into her lectures, and conducting research on teaching. She was the first in OSU’s Agricultural Economics department to develop online courses. Over three decades of working in the academics, Dr. Henneberry has served as the major advisor to over 180 Master’s and 20 PhD students, in addition to mentoring 36 visiting scholars. Her advisees hold prominent positions in academia, private, non-profit, and government sectors, in the US and abroad.


Mrs Catherine Bell1,2

1Backswath Management Inc, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

2California Southern University, Costa Mesa, California, USA



Intergenerational transfer, or succession, is often a goal for family businesses in general, and family farms in particular. This challenging objective is aided or hindered by interpersonal trust between family members. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of the role of trust in succession so that those involved can observe the intergenerational behavioral patterns and estimate the source of trust/mistrust, or they can evaluate the trust issues and predict what behavioral patterns to expect. This meta study of the qualitative research literature on family businesses and succession revealed recurring patterns of intergenerational behavior as it relates to the essential component of trust. Character and competence influence the ability of business founders/predecessors and their children/successors to work within an area of trust, shaping intergenerational relationships and producing characteristic family business behavior patterns. Four typical interactive patterns include long-term stability, authoritarian rule, nepotism and sibling rivalry. Family member trust directly affects, and is affected by, family relationships, which, in turn influence both business performance, and the likelihood of successful intergenerational succession for the business itself.


Currently, Cathy is working with Backswath Management Inc., an agriculture business management consulting group, developing succession, transition and governance resources for farm consultants and their farm family clients. Cathy earned a BSc in Home Economics and started working with the Alberta Government Department of Agriculture as an extension home economist. After 5 years of working in the field, she obtained a master’s degree in adult education (MAEd.) because of her interest in extension and education in general. About this time, she met and married a farmer from the Drumheller area of central Alberta, Canada. For the past 30 years she has been actively involved in the family farm’s grain, legume and oilseed production. With the children leaving for post-secondary education, Cathy had time to follow an area if interest and concern, namely trying to understand the complexity of farm succession and the struggle many families have with this transition. Toward this end she pursued, and recently completed, an MSc. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from California Southern University, focusing on family businesses and succession.

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