Foreign farm grab no threat | My Machinery
CASE Agriculture
Foreign farm grab no threat

Foreign ownership of Australian farmland is not a threat, according to one of the nation’s most well-known agricultural companies. S. Kidman & Co managing director Greg Campbell said foreign owners helped create a more vibrant northern cattle industry by increasing production and protecting smaller producers from market volatility. “There’s a concern there that perhaps is not justified,” Mr Campbell said of public opinion on foreign ownership of land. “We have seen foreign ownership come and go over decades in northern Australia and we are not afraid of foreign investment; they have brought not only capital, but new ideas and technology to the industry.” He said land use and how food produced on Australian farmland was processed and sold was of greater concern. “In the future, I can see an increased propensity for government-owned entities to make investment in agriculture which is quite different to the foreign investment we’ve had in the past,” Mr Campbell said. “If those government-backed quasi-commercial investors were to take food production out of world markets and consign it directly to their own factory and consumption, we lose the buffering affect volume brings to any commodity and that’s when we could see a problem.” Mr Campbell’s comments follow the release of the latest Lowy Institute Poll which shows four in five Australians are opposed to foreign ownership of Australian farmland to grow crops or farm livestock. A barometer of public opinion on foreign policy, the poll included questions on foreign ownership of farmland for the first time in response to “controversial foreign policy debates” in Australia in the past year, author Fergus Hanson said. Of the 1005 Australian adults polled between March 26 and April 10, 81 per cent were against the Federal Government allowing foreign companies to buy Australian farmland, with 63 per cent strongly against. But Mr Campbell said foreign investment should be welcomed, provided land use was tracked accordingly and the spoils sold in a transparent market. “We still have substantial tracts of land nominally under agricultural production, but in some cases are entirely consigned to conservation, or there’s mining going on and no agriculture and this distorts the statistics,” he said. “I do support the idea of there being some kind of regulation on ownership, but if the product is traded in a normal fashion, it can only be advantageous for us all.”

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