The development of a new Australian super-fund-backed collective vehicle for investment in agriculture has been pushed back to 2019, according to a source close to the process.
Informal high-level talks had begun developing what has been dubbed an “IFM Investors for ag.” However, the ongoing Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry inquiry has put ag investment discussions on the back burner.
“Unfortunately, the Royal Commission put a stop to almost everything over the last 2-3 months,” a source told Agri Investor. “Given our current work program, we do not envisage progressing this until 2019 now.”
The news will be disappointing to investment managers and corporate farmers who have called in the past for Australia’s super-funds to invest more in domestic agriculture. The Australian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources is currently conducting an inquiry into the lack of superannuation investment in Australian agriculture.
Industry Super Australia chief economist Stephen Anthony, speaking at Agri Investor’s Australian Forum 2018 in Melbourne in June, said the vehicle would happen at some point “over the next few years,” while Hostplus CIO Sam Sicilia told Agri Investor in April that the first visible action could appear within 12-18 months.
“We are going to do this,” Anthony said. “Whether it’s many industry super-funds or just a few, it will occur.”
He added that the vehicle may not necessarily focus on purchasing farm properties but could instead target infrastructure in rural areas, as well as post-farm-gate businesses.