US grain giant to front Australian Senate inquiry

SENIOR executives with United States oilseeds giant Archer Daniels Midland will front a Senate inquiry into the Australian grain handling industry next week.

The inquiry was established by Senator Bill Heffernan, who had been critical of the rigour the Foreign Investment Review Board applied to foreign takeovers in recent years.

ADM has proposed a takeover of Graincorp, the largest grain handling and marketing firm on the east coast, which is currently Australian-owned.

The proposal will attract assessment of the FIRB, as it involves an effective takeover of Australia's eastern seaboard grain handling and marketing by a foreign firm.

It comes after Nationals Leader Warren Truss addressed the regional party's national conference on the takeover nearly two weeks ago.

Mr Truss was critical of how the takeover could affect grain growers in the eastern states, saying if it went ahead, it would be unlikely the FIRB would ever refuse a foreign proposal.

The issue follows the purchase by a majority foreign-owned joint venture of Australia's largest cotton station, Cubbie Station, in Queensland earlier this year.

It is understood that sale represented the largest single purchase by a foreign investor of Australian agricultural land.

The Senate inquiry had two senior executives of ADM listed as the only witnesses to front the hearing on Tuesday.


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