Farm management is concerned with procedures that assist farm managers allocate limited physical, financial and human resources to achieve their personal (and family) objectives. The process of resource allocation usually occurs with imperfect knowledge, and in the context of a biological and socio-economic system over which the farm manager has incomplete control. Management functions of planning, implementation and control are used to assist decision-making and the realisation of objectives in this uncertain environment. These occur at strategic, tactical and operational levels. Early development of the farm management discipline was strongly shaped by microeconomic theory (especially production economics) and quantitative methods of analysis (mainly from operations research). More recent development of the discipline has seen the addition of the farming systems research (FSR) philosophy and the application of qualitative techniques used in the social sciences. These additions have improved the capacity of farm management research to account for the needs and aspirations of the farmer and farm family, and to consider the dynamics of the community in which they live. This holistic view recognises that farmers frequently do not exhibit economic optimising behaviour and that their decision-making processes often ignore the classical steps outlined in management textbooks. In contrast, animal scientists use a reductionist approach to investigate the animal component of the farming system, independent of the financial, social, and sometimes physical, constraints of a commercial farming situation. It is logical then that farm management specialists should work with animal scientists to interpret animal-related research within the context of farming systems. Today's increasingly sophisticated market for land-based products demands effective partnerships among all participants in the science - technology - production - processing - marketing chain. Issues such as sustainability, product quality, animal welfare and the development of effective information systems are not the preserve of any single discipline. The challenge to farm management researchers and animal scientists is to continue to develop effective working relationships in the future.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 54, , 357-362, 1994
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