Who is the biggest foreign investor in Australian farmland?

The world-famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police force is the biggest investor in Australian farmland .

Canada’s PSP Investments, which manages the superannuation of that nation’s government workers including the mounted police and armed services, has bought almost $4 billion worth of agricultural assets in Australia.

It’s most recent purchase was of the famous merino stud Tubbo Station in NSW for about $40 million.

It was behind three biggest of the biggest deals in Australian agriculture history — the $860 million purchase of Olam Orchards’ almond plantation in northern Victoria in 2019, the $854 million takeover of one of Australia’s biggest landholders in Webster Limited and the $500 million purchase of NSW-based farming giant Auscott Limited.

The Auscott deal includes 22,000 hectares of developed irrigation country and more than 143,000 megalitres of water entitlements, five ginning facilities capable of producing more than one million bales of cotton annually, two warehousing operations and a classing laboratory. Auscott was owned by USA’s JG Boswell Company.

PSP also paid almost $100 million for two major dairy farm portfolios in South Australia and Victoria, in addition to growing its extensive beef, sheep, cropping and horticulture ventures.

According to the most recent Foreign Investment Review Board data, the number of Australian farms owned by foreign interests ballooned almost 10 per cent during 2019-20.

FIRB’s annual farmland ownership showed 9897 farm titles in Australia were owned by some level of offshore interest in 2019-20 – an increase of 853 or 9.4 per cent on the previous year. According to the report, foreign interests snapped up a further 900,000 hectares of land during the 12-month period, bringing the total to more than 53 million hectares, representing about 13.8 per cent of Australia’s farming area.

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