Emma Boughen

Minister calls for foreign government farmland buy ban

AGRICULTURE Minister Barnaby Joyce has called for all foreign governments and government-owned companies to be banned from buying Australian farmland.

It is understood the issue has come to a head in recent weeks after 10 cattle stations were placed on the market with a price tag of about $350 million.

The properties cover more than 100,000sq km of land from Queensland to South Australia and include more than 185,000 cattle.

It is believed several foreign government-owned companies are among the 30-plus bidders that have expressed interest in the properties.

Mr Joyce told The Australian such acquisitions could undermine the national interest but said he had no trouble with private foreign companies buying farms, agribusinesses or food processing assets.

"I just do not want to see agricultural land owned by foreign governments," he said.

"The land we stand on is intrinsic to our values and identity as a nation.

"I would not want to see Australian farmland become under the control of the government of another nation."

During its first three months in office the Abbott Government controversially vetoed the $3.2 billion sale of Australia's biggest agribusiness, GrainCorp, on national interest grounds.

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