A leading Australian bank says that it does not own the farms that produce the dairy products it sells to farmers.
The ABC has obtained documents showing that Australia’s largest supermarket chain, Aldi, is listed as the only owner of more than 70% of the land used by its three major Australian farms.
However, a spokesman for the bank, the Commonwealth Bank, said the bank was not a “owner of the farmers”.
“We’re not an owner,” he said.
“So if you’re talking about a board that owns the farm or a board with the right ownership, that’s a different thing.””
Aldi spokesman, David McBride, said he had no comment.””
So if you’re talking about a board that owns the farm or a board with the right ownership, that’s a different thing.”
Aldi spokesman, David McBride, said he had no comment.
“As an independent company, we operate with a very strict internal audit process, and if there’s any concerns about our operations or operations of our customers, then we’ll have to look into it,” he told the ABC.
“The bank is not a board member, nor is the bank a company, and that’s our approach.”
In a statement to the ABC, Aldis farm operations chief executive Ian Levett said: “Aldis operates a portfolio of dairy farms in Western Australia that is responsible for producing the majority of our milk.”
“We don and will continue to do all we can to ensure the farmers are fully satisfied with their milk,” he added.
“These operations are run in good faith and provide the farmers with the best possible quality of product, at competitive prices.”
The ABC understands that in recent years Aldis has been looking to sell some of its farms, and the company is now in the process of selling some of the remaining farms.
The bank said it was not in the business of owning farm land.
“If a buyer comes in and wants to buy the farm and wants the farm to be sold, then they’ll have their own property and they’ll be selling the farm, and they’re going to have the property to themselves,” Mr McBride said.
“But if the buyer is an investment manager, they’ll come in and say, ‘I want to buy your property and I want to sell the farm’,” he said, before adding that the bank’s farms were owned by a third party.
“They’re owned by the investment manager.”
He said the banks annual audit process was rigorous, and “all the farms have been inspected by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission”.
“The audit of these assets is a very thorough process, it is very rigorous and we’ve had a very high level of confidence in these farms since we purchased them,” Mr Leveett said.
Aldies farm portfolio includes the farms in Queensland, Western Australia, the NT and the ACT.ABC Rural Business has contacted the Commonwealth banks corporate office in Sydney for comment.