Big Money: Former treasurer says agriculture is the next big boom

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Even as the cattle industry in northern Australia struggles, a former Queensland Treasurer sees big profits ahead with Asia’s expanding middle class demanding more protein in their diet.

Other industry experts have also noted the opportunities in Asia, in addition to the future food production needed to meet demand of a growing world population expected to pass nine billion in 2050.

The cattle industry prediction comes from former Macarthur Coal chairman Keith De Lacy, who the Queensland Country Life says presided over Macarthur Coal from its listing in 2001 to the time it topped $5 billion a decade later.

"My view is the next big boom will be the soft commodities boom dependent upon feeding a hungry world," De Lacy said.

The coal market has been declining lately and De Lacy is working on his next project to capitalize on the current state of the market. He’s eyeing Asia’s booming middle class and his country’s cattle industry, which he expects to make a timely recovery.

Along with fellow investors, De Lacy has created a new company, The Staples and Agricultural Global Beef Investment, also known as STAG Beef.

The company will invest in Australia’s cattle industry which has many distressed sellers hurt by a ban on live exports and dry weather. De Lacy could invest up to $100 million with plans to focus solely on breeding and rearing cattle. He told the Queensland Country Life he will avoid the capital intensive end of the cycle, finishing and processing cattle, where more trouble can arise.

The project is already attracting global investors, including Archer Daniels Midland. He plans to collect more interest, both foreign and domestic, before his company makes an initial public offering.

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