The agricultural land register has commenced

The new agricultural land register commenced on 1 July 2015. Commencement of the long anticipated register was announced on 29 June 2015 in a joint media release from the then Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce:http://jbh.ministers.treasury.gov.au/media-release/066-2015/.

The Australian Government has also released a revised version of Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy (Policy), which requires foreign persons to register their interests in agricultural land with the Australian Taxation Office from 1 July 2015. The relevant excerpt from the Policy is:

"The Government has announced its intention to introduce legislation which will require that, from 1 July 2015, foreign persons and foreign government investors holding interests in agricultural land must register those interests with the Australian Taxation Office (regardless of value of that land). All existing holdings must be registered by 31 December 2015 and any new interests be registered within 30 days. If you meet the criteria you are asked to register your interest at: www.ato.gov.au/aglandregister, (from 1 July 2015). Agricultural land means land in Australia that is used, or that could reasonably be used, for a primary production business.”

New trends research predicts mega opportunities for Australian agriculture

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, in partnership with CSIRO, has released interesting new research through its National Rural Issues program which highlights five key megatrends that will significantly impact the future of Australian agriculture in the next 15 to 20 years. The research suggests that:

  • by 2050, there will be 2.3 to 2.4 billion more people on earth and total demand for food will equate to 60% to 70% more food than what is currently available;
  • increasingly wealthier consumers in developing economies will push demand for a greater quantity and diversity of foods;
  • consumers in 2050 are likely to expect food to be nothing less than healthy, nutritional, and ethically produced;
  • advanced digital, genetic and materials science technologies will enable farmers to improve how they produce food and fibre products;
  • Australian rural industries should be expected to develop new and deeper levels of resilience to withstand shocks associated with climate change, environmental change and globalisation.

To obtain a copy of the research paper visit: http://www.rirdc.gov.au/news/2015/08/14/new-trends-research-predicts-mega-opportunities-for-australian-agriculture-as-world-grows-hungrier-wealthier-with-fussier-consumers-by-2035

Findings from Australia’s International Business Survey 2015 revealed

Commissioned by the Export Counsel of Australia with the support of Austrade and EFIC, Australia’s International Business Survey 2015 (“AIBS”) was conducted late last year by The University of Sydney and is the second in a series of studies on Australia’s international business activity.

The results of AIBS, which were released in August 2015 and are available athttp://www.austrade.gov.au/News/Economic-analysis/reports-and-presentations, confirm that Australia’s internationally-active businesses have adopted a range of strategies to respond to shifting global opportunities and challenges, and suggest that local culture, business practices and language differences remain the most significant barriers to Australian companies doing business overseas.

In promoting the results of AIBS, Austrade Chief Economist, Mark Thirlwell, noted that the diversity of international activities undertaken by Australian businesses suggests Australian companies are well positioned to take advantage of international opportunities - both within the region and beyond, and identified India, Indonesia and China, as key target markets for expansion.

Aquaculture opportunities identified by CSIRO in Northern Australia

During 2015, the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia has been inquiring into and reporting on opportunities for expanding the aquaculture industry in Northern Australia. These opportunities were discussed and examined by various departments of the Australian Government and CSIRO during a public hearing on 15 September 2015. In particular, CSIRO has identified 1.5 million hectares of land in Australia which is suitable for aquaculture – with almost 0.5 million hectares situated in Queensland. According to CSIRO, much of tropical Australia is suited for meeting the key requirements for aquaculture development.

Chinese investors target Victorian grazing property

Tianjin Bright & MengDe Dairy, a subsidiary of China's Bright Food Group which owns and operates the second-largest dairy network in China, has purchased a 364 hectare Victorian grazing property. This is the first of the group’s several planned investments in Australia. Tianjin Bright & MengDe Dairy, which milks over 20,000 cows at its dairy facilities in Tianjin, has purchased the property to enable it to establish a dairy heifer export facility within 70 kilometres of Portland, Victoria, and to give the group direct control over the quality of animals the group receives in China.

Historic live export deal with China stimulates investment activity

On the back of the recent announcement that the Australian Government has entered into a new agreement with China that will allow Australian feeder and slaughter cattle to be sold into China, WA’s biggest live exporter, Wellard, has announced a new joint venture with Chinese company Fulida. The joint venture plans to export a larger number of feeder cattle to China where they will be fattened and slaughtered. Wellard will be responsible for providing the joint venture with access to cattle and transportation, while Fulida will provide the joint venture with capital and Chinese distribution networks.

Canadian pension funds target investments in Australian agriculture

Two Canadian pension funds have recently made significant investments in Australian agriculture, reflecting the attractiveness of the sector to overseas investors. The Canadian Public Sector Pension Investment Board has invested in the Australian cattle industry through the Hewitt Cattle Company, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, has made a $115m investment in a Victorian almond property.

Western Australian farm debt mediation scheme

The Western Australian Government has recently established a farm debt mediation scheme to assist farm/pastoral businesses in WA to settle disputes with their finance providers. The scheme provides an opportunity to address issues and disputes through a low cost and non-legal form of mediation and encourages a mutually acceptable agreement between the parties. Applications for farm debt mediation may be submitted by financial institutions or farm/pastoral businesses that can demonstrate they have attempted to address their concerns with the other party prior to submitting their application for mediation.

The professional mediation will be conducted by the Small Business Development Corporation of Western Australia (SBDC). Further information is available athttps://www.agric.wa.gov.au/grains/farm-debt-mediation-wa-scheme

Fund established to support farmers from paddock to port

The Victorian Government has announced the establishment of a $200m fund to support investment in agricultural infrastructure and supply chains to boost productivity, increase exports and reduce costs for Victorian farmers. The fund will be available for practical projects and programs that benefit the agricultural sector, and will be open to farm businesses, industry organisations and asset owners.

Australian fertilizer producer teams with Google

Australian fertilizer producer, CSBP, has formed an association with Google to establish an app which connects the plant and soil data CSBP collects from customers with the Google maps platform. The aim of the app, known as “FERTview”, is to assist farmers to use fertilizer more effectively and to increase productivity by allowing farmers to see soil and plant sample data on a map of their farm.