The first report from the Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land has been released, with WAFarmers saying that the findings will help to demystify perceptions of foreign investment of farmland in Australia.
WAFarmers Chief Executive Officer Stephen Brown said foreign investment was an important source of capital for Australia and that it was a sensitive issue for many.
“Given Australia’s strong relationship with China, there is a common misconception that they hold the highest proportion of foreign-owned land in Australia,” Mr Brown said.
“Further, the issue of foreign investment has seen much negativity, so we think it is very important for people to understand exactly which countries own land in Australia, how much they own and how they use that land so that any concerns about foreign ownership can be allayed.
“This document also goes some way in achieving one of the Policy Priorities we outlined in our Federal Election campaign earlier this year – prioritising agriculture at the top.
“As part of our efforts to mark agriculture as a national economic and policy priority to capture the value of opportunities driven by growing demand for our premium food and fibre, we called for a robust foreign investment register for agriculture to be finalised and made public.
“This is the first step towards realising this goal, and we are pleased that progress has been made in this space so that the register can be used to scrutinize and inform agricultural supply chain trends.”
Key findings (as at 30 June 2016) are as follows:
- 13.6 per cent (52.1 million hectares) of Australia’s total agricultural land of 384.6 million hectares were foreign owned (8.8 million hectares in WA).
- Of this 52.1 million hectares, 9.4 million were freehold and 43.4 million were held as leasehold.
- Livestock production was the highest use of foreign-owned agricultural land by area (45.8 million hectares or 88 per cent of foreign-land total).
- The UK holds the most land (27.5 million hectares – 52.7 per cent of foreign-owned agricultural land, or 7.2 per cent of total Australian agricultural land.
You can view the first report here.