99% of farm businesses in Australia are Australian owned

More than 99 per cent of Australian farm businesses are fully Australian owned and 88 per cent of farmland is fully Australian owned, according to figures released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey.

“The 2016 survey found that the proportion of Australian to foreign owned farming businesses has not changed significantly in the three years since the survey was last run,” said Lisa Wardlaw-Kelly, Program Manager, Environment and Agriculture Statistics Branch.

The survey also found that the majority of agriculture water entitlements in 2016 were Australian owned (87 per cent).

“The 2016 survey confirmed that large businesses continue to account for the majority of foreign owned farm land with fewer than 50 businesses accounting for nearly 95 per cent of the total area of foreign owned farm land in Australia,” Ms Wardlaw-Kelly said.

The 2015-16 Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey (ALWOS) was conducted to inform debate about foreign ownership of agricultural land and water entitlements. With the establishment of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land and Register of Foreign Ownership of Australian Water Entitlements, the ABS intends to review the continuation of this survey.

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Results from the 2016 Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey are consistent with the first report from the ATO’s Register of Foreign Owned Agricultural Land, released in September 2016, which put the proportion of agricultural land with a level of foreign interest at a slightly higher 13.6 per cent.

“This difference is not unexpected and is due to the slightly broader scope of the register, which includes all foreign interest in agricultural land and water when ALWOS focuses on direct foreign investment in the business that owns the asset,” Ms Wardlaw-Kelly explained.

Supplementary information is available from both the ABS and ATO websites to assist in the interpretation of these two datasets.

More details on the can be found in Agricultural Land and Water Ownership, June 2016 (cat. no. 7127.0) available for free download from the ABS website www.abs.gov.au.