The Straits Times
Published on Oct 23, 2012

Australia to track foreign farm investments


CANBERRA (REUTERS) - Australia will set up a foreign-ownership register for farm lands, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Tuesday, as the government moves to ease public concern over foreign buyers in the agriculture sector, particularly Chinese.

The announcement comes as foreign investors increasingly target Australian agricultural assets to tap booming global demand for food, sparking a political debate and concerns Australia is selling off its future food security.

The latest interest in Australia's agriculture sector came from US agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland, which on Monday proposed to take over Australia's grains handler GrainCorp for US$2.8 billion (S$3.4 billion).

In August, Australia approved Chinese textile group Shandong Ruyi's purchase of Cubbie Station, which covers almost 1,000 sq km of south-western Queensland, sparking a new debate about levels of Chinese investment into Australian farms.