Get access

Foreign Acquisition of Agricultural Land and Food Security: A Cautionary Note on Public Policy


  • Greg Mahony

    Assistant Professor in Economics and International Business, Corresponding author
    • Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra, ACT, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

  • The author acknowledges the generous support of the Public Policy Institute of the Australian Catholic University where he is currently a Visiting Fellow.

Correspondence: Greg Mahony, Government and Law, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Email:


Proposed amendments to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 appear motivated by concern with food security and foreign ownership. Approval would be required for acquisitions by foreigners of agricultural land over five hectares, a register of agricultural land would be established and there would be a new explicit national interest test. This article explores the variegated social, political and economic opposition to foreign acquisition of agricultural land and finds it misplaced. Increased agricultural productivity to address the challenge of global food security requires that the sector emulates the success of global manufacturing within a network of alliances global supply chain. Productivity considerations should override populism as the main driver of policy for the regulation of Foreign Direct Investment.