Alarm bells at sovereign funds' farmlands foray
Stock & Land | 16 Aug, 2010
SOVEREIGN wealth funds have become the central issue in the debate over foreigners buying up rural properties in Australia.
While there are many examples of foreigners buying land in the past couple of years, Qatar-based Hassad Food, which is backed by the Qatar Investment Authority, exemplifies sovereign wealth funds buying up rural land in Australia to feed not only Qatar but other Middle Eastern countries concerned about food security.
Hassad has bought more than $40 million worth of sheep stations in northern NSW and South Australia in the past six months and intends to increase its land holding, according to The Australian Financial Review.
The federal Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke, has emphasised the value of foreign investment in the agricultural sector, saying investments by international agricultural and food groups "have allowed our farmers to maximise the prices they receive for the products they produce".
But Liberal senator Bill Heffernan warns sovereign wealth funds need to be watched because some were "already acquiring other sovereigns' wealth to protect their own food security tasks".
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