McCullough Robertson: new Aussie farmland rules will cost time and money

The new foreign investment rules are likely to increase the time and cost it takes to complete farmland deals, says the law firm.

Australian law firm McCullough Robertson says the new rules governing foreign farm ownership will lead to increased time to complete deals and higher costs.

The new rules will result in more applications being lodged with the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), which is likely to lengthen the time it takes to gain approval. Approval is usually given within 40 days, but this can rise to 90 days if circumstances require.

The FIRB is also proposing a charge of A$1,500 per application ($1,145; €1,088).

“In the short term, the biggest practical impact that is likely to be felt from these changes to the rules is the increased time and cost associated with farm purchases by foreign investors due to the requirement to obtain FIRB approval,” the firm said.

Any acquisition by a foreign investor which already holds more than $15 million-worth of rural land will be subject to review, even if the latest acquisition is small.

A national foreign land ownership register will be created, using information from the Australian Taxation Office and the states’ and territories’ land title offices.

McCullough Robertson’s report also offers safety lessons in the agribusiness workplace, insights into health and safety within the sector, the importance of analysing insurance policies, the effects of a potential free trade agreement with India, and a Q&A with Rocky Point Prawn Farm.

Read The RoundUp – food and agribusiness here.