13 Sep 2013

Foreign interest in Aust land rises

1:16 pm on 13 September 2013

Foreign investment in Australian farming has been a hot topic there this week - with China, Indonesia and even New Zealand's Fonterra reportedly looking to buy dairy farms and grazing land.

Separately, the Indonesian government has announced its in the market for a million hectares of grazing land in Northern Australia so it can breed cattle to meet its domestic demand.

The country's policy of restricting foreign beef imports has led to shortages in Indonesia and the government's looking to shore up its supply.

While any purchase would be subject to Australian-government approval - The Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association says the foreign investment might be a lifeline for the industry that still hasn't recovered from a temporary ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011, due to animal welfare concerns .

And in Tasmania, there's renewed talk that China's Investment Corporation is looking to buy a large stake in the 25 Tasmanian dairy farms largely owned by the New Plymouth District Council.

The council's signalled its intention to reduce its share in the farms.

Australian reports say Fonterra is also keen on investing in the farms alongside China - although Fonterra's staying tight-lipped on the speculation.

In this country, the New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters has criticised the Overseas Investment Office for approving the sale of another large farming operation to foreign buyers .

He says Mt Pember Station in Canterbury's Lees Valley has been sold to North American interests.

It's an amalgamation of seven runs and farms, totalling more than 27,000 hectares, and carrying more than 50,000 stock.