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Australia has an open door for foreign investment, but voters hold the keys

'Australia is selling off the farm to foreign investors, and won’t be able to feed itself in 20 years.'

While anyone with a reasonable knowledge of Australian agriculture would immediately dismiss a statement such as this as pure fantasy, there has been plenty of media stories running these lines over the past 12 months, and it is an issue of increasing concern to voters. In fact a recent Essential Report survey found that 55% of Australians are opposed to the sale of Australian farm land to foreign investors, and only 22% are in favour, with the rest undecided.

This article examines the role of foreign investment in Australian agriculture and discusses some of the issues that appear to be creating unease amongst voters. It also proposes some measures that could be implemented so that there is a better understanding of this issue by voters, and that decisions about foreign investment are better informed and made in Australia’s national interest. (more)

The Institute is currently undertaking a project which will extend the FarmGAS calculator platform to include videos, presentations, case studies and a web portal to support participation in the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI). (more)

The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP and the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP provide their opinions on the Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper – is it timely, or a time waster destined to be ignored? (more)

Does your lobby group provide the best influence money can buy? In its latest research, Opportunities to improve the effectiveness of Australian farmers’ advocacy groups – a comparative approach, the Institute has conducted research with the aim of identifying the factors that are likely to make an advocacy organisation more effective. (more)

In this edition, Italy sees red over UK ‘traffic light’ labelling; McDonald’s has no beef with sustainability; the Ord Irrigation Scheme doubles in size; the dawn of low price era for US crops; and the International Year of Family Farming. (more)

The Institute’s annual Agriculture Roundtable Conference received considerable media attention, popular topics included: Australian exports into Asian food markets, marketing Australian agriculture, and foreign investment. (more)

Upcoming Institute events include a Seminar: Opportunities to improve the effectiveness of Australian farmers’ advocacy groups, on 3 March 2014; and the Conference: Funding Agriculture’s Future on 3 & 4 June 2014. Both events are bring held at the Hotel Realm in Canberra.

Images:  Clare Bellfield, certified su, IJ Clarke, CSIRO, C Downie, Martin Howard, SJ Howard, Sarah Keogh, The Land, Michael Lloyd, Murrumbidgee Irrigation, Lock the Gate, NFF, The Petite Four, Gaétane Potard, USDA

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