Should the tightening of rules on foreign investment in agricultural farm land in Australia announced today bring some relief to those who believe in food sovereignty? The question remains if it is too little and too late in reducing the investment threshold and [finally] creating a register to track foreign ownership of land.
While the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation reports that just 11 percent of agricultural land is owned by foreign investors, its perhaps more alarming that foreign ownership accounted for about half of Australia’s dairy, sugar and red meat sectors. That percentage would have changed as this was reported back in 2012 and recent acquisitions such as JBS for Primo to SAPUTO’s takeover of the Warrnambool Cheese & Butter — would cast a different light on things.
I am personally not opposed to investments that will create jobs, spur economic growth or increase innovation for the benefit of the Australian agricultural industry.
However, we have yet to see how foreign investments have translated directly to our capability to address the ageing infrastructure that shifts production to markets, water allocation for agricultural production to supporting farmers who have been affected by the falling value of food.
Perhaps it’s a little premature to rejoice in this news today.
Until we see more than a ripple of policy measures to address the 25 themes outlined in the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper, I’m staying in the camp of the three in five Australians who are opposed to the foreign ownership of agricultural land.