FIRB gives first bite of the cherry to Australian agricultural investors
According to the FIRB annual reports, Americans invested $1.3billion on Australian agricultural land in the 2016 financial year. The Chinese invested about $1billion on our farmland in the same year.
FIRB approval is generally required where:
(a) the investor is foreign owned/controlled;
(b) the investment is in excess of $15million (except where the investor is from Chile, New Zealand, Thailand or the United States).
When a foreign investor applies for FIRB approval to acquire agricultural land in Australia, FIRB advises the Treasurer on whether to approve the investment and if so, what conditions to impose on the investor.
As of 1 February 2018, the Treasurer will be required to take into account whether there was an adequate opportunity for Australians to acquire the land first. This FIRB guidance requires that the proposed sale of the agricultural land was publicly marketed and advertised via channels accessible to Australian investors for at least 30 days. This would be achieved, by way of example, if the property was marketed on real estate listing websites and newspapers.
Our property division has particular expertise in agricultural property acquisitions and disposals. If you have any questions in this area, please contact us.