The Australian Greens are concerned about the proposed sale of Tasmania's dairy land and processors to Chinese investors, and ask whether it is in the national interest to lose ownership of land and water when young farmers want to get onto the land but are prevented from doing so by poor farm gate prices resulting from the supermarket duopolies.
"We want to make sure that vertical integration from the farm, to the processor to the Chinese consumer does not constitute "out sourcing" and distort markets for land and dairy products." Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, said today.
"The Greens have been pushing for a long time to have a national interest test so that we can better evaluate foreign investment into agricultural land and water licenses and ensure that Australian interests are protected. We need to cement into legislation criteria to determine what is in the national interest because it is now a subjective judgement of the Minister.
"I want to help young farmers be able to buy land.
"At the same time farmers who want to sell their farms need a market that is profitable enough to attract buyers. This is not happening because of low farm gate prices imposed by the supermarket duopoly.
"Surely we need to examine what is wrong with our current policies that are driving farmers off the land, rather than sell land to countries seeking to outsource production.
"What is additionally worrying is that the proposed expansion of the VDL company would be dependent on clearing 7,000 hectares of native vegetation - and stands in direct violation of our clearing laws and federal laws on threatened species, the Tasmanian devil in particular.
Tasmanian Minister Green has granted an exemption to clearing laws, demonstrating bad practice and setting a terrible precedent. Federal Labor will now determine it and once again Labor demonstrates it cannot be trusted on the environment.
"We must ask, how is this development in the national interest? How will it benefit Aussie farmers and our wider community, and what consequences will it have on our natural environment?"