It might surprise many people to learn foreign investment in Australian agricultural land has not risen much in recent years.
The sales of big Aussie properties and farm aggregations to foreign interests such as Canada have captured many headlines.
But the Foreign Investment Review Board says in the four years before the COVID-19 pandemic the value of approvals in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector has remained relatively stable at between $7 billion and $8.3 billion per year.
"For the first time in four years the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector has been the smallest sector by value for proposed investment approvals," the board says.
Residential real estate is where the interest is growing from foreign buyers.
In 2019-20 residential real estate saw an increase in the value of approvals of $2.3 billion (to $17.1 billion), according to the Register of foreign ownership of residential land.
In a recent report, the board said there were 174 approvals granted for $8.3 billion worth of proposed investment in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
The biggest spenders by country were Canada ($2.6 billion) and Singapore ($1.4 billion).
Canadian-based agribusiness PSP Investments is now spending up to $3 billion a year expanding its farming footprint around the world - more than half of which is going into Australasian operations.
In 2019 -20, the total number of residential real estate purchase transactions with a level of foreign ownership was 7482 with a value of $6 billion.
The total number of residential real estate sales by foreign persons during the 2019 -20 period was 1957 with a value of $1.5 billion.
Most purchases (88 per cent) were in Victoria, NSW and Queensland and most sales were in those same states.
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Most foreign money changed hands for residential properties under $1 million, accounting for 79pc of property transactions in 2019-20, only slightly down on the year before.
A state by state breakdown on those residential land sales - Victoria 3215, NSW 1950, Queensland 1416, South Australia 302, Western Australia 228, Tasmania 191, ACT 171, NT 8.
Most foreign buys were new dwellings and vacant land.
Sales of foreign owned property rose in 2019-20 when compared with both 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Most sales were for new or established dwellings.
In the reporting period, most buys (806) in Victoria were for vacant land - with an average price of just over $348,000.
In Queensland, there were 251 purchases of vacant land for an average price of about $390,000.
Foreign sales of vacant land in other key states - NSW (112) average price of $536,000, South Australia (54) average price of $315,000, Western Australia (72) average price of $389,000.
In the FIRB's annual report it says the bulk, or more than 70pc, of approvals granted to foreign purchasers were for farms.
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