Dialogues in Human Geography. Volume 12 (1). pp 169-172.
In the north-western corner of Tasmania lies the 22,000 hectare Woolnorth property, the largest dairy farm in the southern hemisphere. In 2016, Woolnorth was acquired by Moon Lake Investments, a company owned by a Chinese window-blind manufacturer with no prior experience of farming, for AUS$220m (US$170m). The sale was controversial, provoking outrage in the Australian press, questions in parliament and a counter-bid led by a Tasmanian entrepreneur. Yet, for many local residents, the transaction was business as normal for Woolnorth, a property that had always been in foreign, corporate ownership.
The case of Woolnorth, which I encountered in research on globalization and rural localities (Woods, 2022), repeatedly came to mind as I read Stefan Ouma’s compelling study of farmland financialization, Farming as Financial Asset. Ouma’s forensic analysis of the structures and practices through which agricultural asset management is operationalized resonated with the story of Woolnorth, but more than that it provided an insight into the opaque world of global finance that sat behind the Woolnorth case and by extension into the role that finance plays in producing the contemporary global countryside.