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NFF welcomes foreign land register but calls for more detail

7 September 2016

The National Farmers Federation (NFF) has welcomed the release of the registry of foreign ownership of agricultural land.

The report, released earlier today by Treasurer Scott Morrison, shows the United Kingdom as the leading overseas owner of farming land in Australia, followed by the United States, the Netherlands, Singapore and China.

NFF Chief Executive Officer, Tony Mahar, said transparency was key to addressing community concerns around foreign investment in agriculture so as to fill the severe capital shortfall faced by the sector.

“The NFF has long called for a register of this nature to provide firm data around the foreign ownership debate and we most certainly welcome the release of this report,” Mr Mahar said.

“In saying that, we believe more detail is required than has been offered today, particularly in terms of the regional location of foreign-owned properties and the nature of the investment entity.

“It is not necessary to list each and every property, as suggested by the Labor party, however simply providing State and Territory overviews should be the starting point.

“Furthermore, we want to see more detailed information by commodity and have information presented on the proportion of land either partially or wholly owned by foreign government investors.”

Mr Mahar said foreign investment was an important ingredient in helping agriculture extract the full value of thriving market demand for Australian food and fibre.

“Australia needs foreign investment generally, and our deteriorating public finances only make this reliance greater,” he said.

“Our industry is in need of capital to invest in supply chain assets so as to build production and profitability at this time of immense growth opportunity.

“For this to happen, the Government must make available as much information as possible to build community comfort with foreign investment, provide more clarity surrounding the Foreign Investment Review Board approval process and have adequate measures in place to ensure foreign interests are on a level playing field with Australian producers.”

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