Article – Australia still owns the farm

20 June 2014
The Land

DESPITE an increase in farmland owned by businesses with some level of foreign investment, Australia’s farms and farm businesses remain largely Australian-owned.

Figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in its 2013 Agricultural Land and Water Ownership survey (ALWOS)show just under 99 per cent of Australian farm businesses are fully Australian-owned and just under 90pc of farmland is fully Australian owned.
Bruce Hockman from the ABS said the survey also confirmed that large businesses continue to account for the majority of foreign owned farmland, with less than 50 businesses accounting for 95pc of the total area of foreign owned farmland in Australia.
“Of the 400 million hectares of agricultural land in Australia, nearly 50 million hectares had some level of foreign ownership – this is up by around 5 million hectares, an increase of 11 per cent on the 2010 result,” Mr Hockman said.
“Water entitlements for farm businesses with some level of overseas ownership increased significantly, with most of this increase happening in Queensland.”
Water entitlements totalled more than 13 million megalitres in 2013, with more than 11 million megalitres being wholly Australian owned, and nearly 2 million megalitres going to those with some level of foreign ownership (up 55pc).
Proportion of agricultural businesses wholly Australian owned

The survey shows that as at June 30, 2013, there were an estimated 806 businesses nationally with agricultural holdings that reported a level of foreign ownership.
These represented less than 1pc of all businesses with agricultural holdings, which was a similar proportion to 2010.
Of the businesses that reported a level of foreign ownership, nearly half reported they were more than 50pc foreign-owned.
Of the states and territories, Tasmania had the lowest level of foreign ownership of agricultural businesses, with 0.4pc of its businesses reporting a level of foreign ownership.
The Northern Territory had the highest level of foreign ownership of agricultural businesses, with 3.5pc of its businesses reporting a level of foreign ownership.
The majority of businesses with a level of foreign ownership were concentrated in the sheep, beef cattle and grains industry.
“This industry contained 39pc of the businesses with a level of foreign ownership,” the ABS reports.
The fruit and tree nut growing industry contained 26pc of the businesses with a level of foreign ownership.

Foreign ownership of ag land rises

The area of agricultural land in Australia owned by businesses with a level of foreign ownership increased from 44.9 million hectares at December 31, 2010 to 49.6 million hectares at June 30, 2013, an increase of 4.7 million hectares.
In 2013, the vast majority (95pc) of the total area of agricultural land owned by businesses with a level of foreign ownership (47.2 million hectares) was owned by 45 businesses.
Each of these businesses had land holdings over 100,000 hectares in size.
Similarly in 2010, the majority (94pc) of the total area of agricultural land owned by businesses with a level of foreign ownership (42.2 million hectares) was owned by 44 businesses, each with land holdings over 100,000 hectares in size.
By contrast, the area of agricultural land owned by smaller-sized businesses with a level of foreign ownership (businesses with land holdings of less than 400 hectares) fell from 86,000 hectares in 2010 (owned by 680 businesses) to 32,000 hectares in 2013 (owned by 310 businesses).
Of the states and territories, Victoria had the lowest proportion of its agricultural land owned by businesses with a level of foreign ownership (2pc or 238,000 hectares).
The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of its agricultural land owned by businesses with a level of foreign ownership (32pc or 17.7 million hectares).
Proportion of agricultural land wholly Australian owned

This is the second ALWOS conducted by the ABS.
The first was conducted in 2010 following the introduction of the Foreign Acquisitions Amendment (Agricultural Land) Bill, when the ABS was asked to collect information on the level of foreign ownership of agricultural businesses, land and water entitlements used for agricultural activity to inform government policy in this area.
Courtesy of The Land

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