Saturday, 17 August 2013

Don't sell our farms: Greens

WHILE the ALP has drawn ire from the farming sector for broadly endorsing agricultural foreign investment, the Australian Greens this morning (Saturday) are proposing a stricter foreign ownership policy at a launch in Brisbane.

Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said the government should be cracking down on foreign investors buying up Australian farms to protect not only the economy but also long-term food security.

"Australia is one of the countries being targeted by foreign buyers to secure their nation’s own food security," Senator Milne said.

“Keeping control of our prime agricultural land water resources is critical to maximise our own resilience and provide exports to the global market."

The Greens this week blasted Mr Rudd's idea of lowering the barriers to foreign ownership for northern Australia, saying the ALP's northern development plan "undermines our sovereignty and risks sustainability", while federal Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon was recently criticised by National Senators for his stance on overseas investment.

Speaking at the Australian Grains Industry Conference in Melbourne in July, Minister ­Fitzgibbon said the agricultural industry needed to embrace an influx of foreign funds.

"If we really want to capitalise on the opportunities Asia offers us, we will need a lot of capital, we will need a lot of investment," he said.

"Our national interest is first and foremost. We should embrace foreign investment, not fear it."

Mr Fitzgibbon's comments came as the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) considers US company Archer Daniels Midland's (ADM) proposed $3 billion takeover of agribusiness GrainCorp, Australia's only independent grain handler, a move strongly opposed by Coalition Senators Fiona Nash and Bill Heffernan.

In launching its 'Our Food Future' policy on August 8, the Greens called for a lowering of the threshold from $248 million to $5m for consideration of the national interest purchases of agricultural land and water, including cumulative purchases, to legislate a mandatory national interest test and maintain a live register of foreign ownership of agricultural land and water assets to track overseas purchases.
Original Article Here

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