Overwhelming majority of Aussie agriculture companies locally-owned: report

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CANBERRA, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- More than 99 percent of agriculture businesses in Australia are fully locally-owned, a report released Wednesday has found.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016 Agricultural Land and Water Ownership Survey (ALWOS) also found that 88 percent of farmland in the country is Australian-owned.

Altogether, just over 600 Australian agricultural businesses, or 0.5 percent, reported having some level of foreign ownership. The Northern Territory (NT) had the highest rate of foreign ownership at 6.9 percent.

Lisa Wardlaw-Kelly, manager of the ABS Environment and Agriculture branch, said that the report proved fears over foreign ownership in Australia's agriculture industry were overblown.

"The 2016 survey found that the proportion of Australian to foreign owned farming businesses has not changed significantly in the three years since the survey was last run," Wardlaw-Kelly said in a media release on Wednesday.

"The survey confirmed that large businesses continue to account for the majority of foreign owned farm land with fewer than 50 businesses accounting for nearly 95 percent of the total area of foreign owned farm land in Australia."

The ABS confirmed that results from the ALWOS were consistent with findings by the recently-established Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Register of Foreign Owned Agricultural Land.

The ATO report found that 13.6 percent of Australian land was at least partially foreign-owned compared to the 12 percent reported by the ABS.

"This difference is not unexpected and is due to the slightly broader scope of the register, which includes all foreign interest in agricultural land and water when ALWOS focuses on direct foreign investment in the business that owns the asset," Wardlaw-Kelly said.

The ABS also found that 87 percent of water entitlements were Australian-owned. Enditem

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