Friday, June 12, 2020

Selling the Farm - More Dairy Farms Snapped Up By North American Capital

Written by: Ned K. on 13 June 2020

A prominent dairy production company, Beston Foods, has sold its four dairy cattle farms located in the South East of SA near Mt Gambier.

Buying and selling of dairy farms is nothing new. However, this particular sale is an example of how foreign capital is bit by bit buying up prime agricultural land in Australia. The farms are being sold to Aurora Dairies who already manage 18 dairy farms in the South East and western Victoria. Aurora Dairies is owned by Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Warakiirri Asset Management.

A previous article in Vanguard showed that this Pension Investment Board is one of the top 10 agribusinesses in Australia. They are buying dairy farms with an eye to supplying milk to the highest bidder. Currently the highest bidders are those milk production agribusinesses such as Mondelez who make most of their profits by exporting dairy foods including baby formula milk to overseas markets such as China.
This is a strange situation whereby the capital for investment purposes comes from the superannuation money from workers, in this case Canadian public servants. The Pension Fund, like industry superannuation funds here, searches the globe for investments which give their fund members a good "return". So, we have the ironic situation of the Pension Fun of Canadian workers benefiting from the increased exploitation of dairy cattle farm workers in South East of SA and western Victoria!
Pension Funds and industry superannuation funds are indeed locked into the system of imperialism, even though sometimes dressed up as "ethical investors".
Back to the sale of Beston Foods. Why did the owners sell the farms?
According to the Chairman of Beston Foods, Roger Sexton, the company made a $3.09 million loss in the first half of the current financial year and a loss of $15.5 million the previous year. The sale of the farms was "crucial to the ability of the company to keep operating".
Beston Foods was started by local SA businessman Roger Sexton and Stephen Gerlach, a former senior partner of top big business firm, Finlaysons. Despite their relatively wealthy standing in the SA business community, they are small fish in the big imperialist economic sea, waiting to be swallowed bit by bit by foreign owned capital searching the globe for their next opportunity to accumulate more capital and surplus value.
The force keeping Beston afloat as a dairy manufacturing company of manly mozzarella cheese and lactoferrin are the workers at their Murray Bridge and Jervois production plants. The directly employed are paid just above the award and the many labor hire workers paid just the minimum award. They are working in a high unemployment area and will be watching carefully to see what Beston's next move is. Sexton said the $40 million from the sale of the farms to the Canadian Pension Board will be used to reduce debt levels and "to release capital for reinvestment in higher returning dairy factory assets".
This sounds like a euphemism for replacing workers with more technologically advanced machinery. Time will tell.

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