The head of a Queensland agricultural company which is investing in the Tasmanian dairy industry says he despairs about the lack of finance from Australian investors.
Tim McGavin runs the Laguna Bay Pastoral Company which has had to source more than $80 million from America to fund the purchase of eight dairy farms in the Smithton area in north west Tasmania.
“It’s been devastating to me personally to set up Laguna Bay via overseas investment and not have one Australian investor for the agriculture sector,” Mr McGavin said.
“Our capital is locked in for very long periods of time, there’s no redemption, and the money for this project has been sourced from North American pension funds.”
“The Foreign Investment Review Board had to approve the package and we have a good relationship with FIRB,” Mr McGavin said.
Opportunity for locals
The eight dairy farms which are part of the deal were owned mainly by families and retiring dairy farmers who can stay on to manage the farms under contract.
Laguna Bay said it will look to increase the numbers of cows being milked from just over 6,000 to 10,000 and all the milk would go to one processor.
The company said there will be job opportunities in the local area with the expansion and the amount of milk produced would give it better bargaining power with milk prices.
“We’re empowering young farmers and if they have the energy and the skills then we’ll set up an incentive structure for them,” Mr McGavin said.
“It’s exactly what needs to happen with agriculture and it’s absolute nonsense just to think the corporates are coming in there’s no opportunity for the locals.”
Mr McGavin said Laguna Bay Pastoral Company would look for other opportunities to invest in Tasmanian agriculture whether it be in horticulture, wineries or beef.
Laguna Bay has a major investment of more than $200 million in an almond orchard in Victoria where 12,000 hectares of trees are planted producing 3 per cent of the world’s almond crop.
Agents are yet to finalise a buyer for Rushy Lagoon one of Tasmania’s largest properties in the state’s north east which is expecting a price tag of around $70 million.
Source: ABC Rural