Just 1% of Aust. farm businesses foreign owned says ABS

MORE THAN 99 percent of Australian farm businesses are fully Australian owned and 88 percent of farmland is fully Australian owned, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey (ALWOS).

“The 2016 survey found that the proportion of Australian to foreign owned farming businesses has not changed significantly in the three years since the survey was last run,” ABS program manager for the Environment and Agriculture Statistics Branch, Lisa Wardlaw-Kelly said

The survey also found the majority of agriculture water entitlements in 2016 were Australian owned (87 percent).

“The 2016 survey confirmed that large businesses continue to account for the majority of foreign owned farm land with fewer than 50 businesses accounting for nearly 95 percent of the total area of foreign owned farm land in Australia,” Ms Wardlaw-Kelly said. 

The 2015-16 ALWOS was conducted to inform debate about foreign ownership of agricultural land and water entitlements. However, with the establishment of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land and Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Water Entitlements, the ABS is reviewing the need for the continuation of its survey. 

Results from the 2016 ALWOS were consistent with the first report from the ATO’s Register of Foreign Owned Agricultural Land, released in September 2016, which put the proportion of agricultural land with a level of foreign interest at a slightly higher 13.6 percent. 

“This difference is not unexpected and is due to the slightly broader scope of the register, which includes all foreign interest in agricultural land and water when ALWOS focuses on direct foreign investment in the business that owns the asset,” Ms Wardlaw-Kelly said. 

She said supplementary information was available from both the ABS and ATO websites to assist Australia’s agribusiness sector to interpret the two datasets.

Agricultural Land and Water Ownership, June 2016 is available for free download from the ABS website.



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