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Increasing Foreign Ownership of Australia’s Agricultural Supply Chain

Written by: Duncan B. on 4 December 2020


There has been a lot of concern about the level of foreign ownership of Australia’s farm land and water resources. For all the carry-on about China in some circles, the biggest purchasers of Australian farm assets in 2019-20 were Canadian pension funds, with Canada accounting for $2.1 billion of the $2.9 billion worth of transactions.

What is less well known but also disturbing is the level of foreign ownership of the cotton mills, abattoirs, grain export terminals and other vital links in the food supply chain.

A report in the November 2020 edition of AgJournal found that more than 25 of our largest red-meat abattoirs, including three of the five largest are owned by overseas companies. Brazil’s JBS and the US Teys-Cargill are the big players in the meat industry. US, Japanese and Brazilian companies also control the majority of Australia’s beef feedlots.

At least 35 of our major dairy factories are owned by overseas interests. Canada’s Saputo and France’s Lactalis along with New Zealand’s Fonterra own most of Australia’s dairy processors. Dairy farmers are very much at the mercy of these companies who dictate the farm-gate price farmers get for their product, leaving them struggling to survive.

Australian grain export terminals, cotton gins and sugar refineries are also mostly in foreign hands. 18 of 25 grain terminals are controlled by companies such as Canada’s Glencore and the US Cargill.

Of our 38 cotton gins, less than 10 are Australian owned.  U.S. and Singapore companies are the big players in the cotton industry.

All but six of Australia’s 24 raw sugar mills are foreign-owned. Singapore-owned company Wilmar International is the major owner of our sugar refineries.

Foreign ownership of Australian farm land, water resources and food processing companies compromises our national independence and is a threat to our food security. These companies put their own interests ahead of the needs of Australian farmers and the Australian people.



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