Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Growing Pains

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Growing Pains

Article excerpt

AUSTRALIA'S food supply could become less reliable and more expensive if foreign ownership of our land and water isn't reined in, experts warn.

Other aspects of food security also need to be addressed.

Recent acquisition activity in Australian agriculture include Canadian interests in wheat exporter AWB and ABB Grain Ltd and the sale of CSR's Sucrogen sugar business to a Singapore-based company.

The pattern is likely to continue, with an expanding global population a which the United Nations has forecast will surpass nine billion by 2050 a increasing demand for food, fertiliser and agricultural land.

A Senate food production report released last month called for an audit to assess the extent of foreign ownership of Australia's agricultural land and water.

NSW Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, who chaired the committee that published the report, says the issue isn't only about Australia's control of its resources, but about its future.

a(Food security) is a sovereignty issue and a destiny issue a controlling your destiny."

The Senate report said Australia risked foreign companies, many with close links to their home governments, buying substantial interests in Australian land without being vetted for national interest.

"Australia needs to be careful that (its) productive capacity is not undermined by foreign interests producing food on Australian land that is not intended for trade, but for direct supply to countries that have not managed their own food security needs," it said.

Urban encroachment was affecting the capacity of Australian producers to grow food, which was hurting quality and affordability, the report added. Competition for land from the mining and biofuels sectors also threatened productive capacity.

Governments around the world, including Australia's, needed to start planning now for the long-term food needs of the population. …

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