China has increased its Australian farmland ownership by a factor of 10

By Addie Thomes

New figures from the Australian Tax Office's Agricultural Land Register shows that China has massively increased its yield of agricultural land in the country.

Chinese companies now own more than 14mn hectares of Australian farmland, which represents around 2.5% of Australia’s entire agricultural pastures. This is around 10 times that of a year ago.

China is now second only to the UK in terms of foreign countries owning farmland. Between them, they account for half of the foreign-owned farmland in Australia.

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Much of the leap in Chinese ownership can be attributed to major deals that have taken place over the past year. Western Australia in particular saw an increase in investment from China, including two 700,000-hectare properties now owned by billionaire Xingfa Ma.

In total, foreign investors own approximately 14% of all Australian agricultural land, with figures from the Northern Territory and Tasmania showing a foreign ownership of closer to 25%.

These statistics are revealed at a time when some Australian agri-businesses have been struggling to meet output targets, not helped by one of the driest winters for many years.

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