December 3, 2012
Chinese agricultural giant Beidahuang Group is snapping up prime farm land in southern Western Australia as part of big plans to meet the Asian superpower’s food needs. The company has acquired about 30,000 hectares in the past month for $52 million as it moves to create a supply chain that operates independently of WA grain handler CBH. An arm of the state-owned Beidahuang Group, Heilongjiang Feng Agricultural, wants to buy and lease about 100,000 hectares of land worth about $4 billion to grow grain for export to China, according to media reports last week. WA Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said he had not been in talks with the Chinese company and did not know anything about it beyond the news report. “I don’t see a reason why I need to be in discussion with everyone who’s showing interest,” he said. “It does give us confidence in agriculture in Western Australia and where it’s going. “If you look at the countries that have got significant investments here in Australia… it comes from the US and the UK, and I really don’t see any big fearful issues here.” Mr Redman said he expected a lot of the reported $4 billion investment would be spent on infrastructure and should be supported in WA, which produced enough food for 13.5 million people and was an export focused state. Only land purchases are subject to Foreign Investment Review Board consent, which is not needed when foreign entities lease land. Heilongjiang has bought land near Hyden that had been seized from one of the state’s largest grain-growing families, the Joyces, and land near Ongerup. Earlier this month, Chinese conglomerate Shanghai Zhongfu clinched a $700 million deal to lease more than 13,000 hectares of prized farm land in the Kimberley region for 50 years for sugar production.