Sturt Downs has been bought by a company backed by an Argentinian family with extensive investments in broadacre cropping (Photo: Elders)
Argentinian cropping company buys Northern Territory cattle station Sturt Downs for $6.8 million
By Daniel Fitzgerald
Cross Pacific Investments, which is backed by the Buratovich family, has bought the 67,840 hectare Sturt Downs Station, along with around 1,000 head of cattle, plant and equipment.
In June the company bought Manbulloo Station, which backs onto Sturt Downs, and in August purchased Scott Creek Station, on Manbulloo's western boundary.
Cross Pacific Investments has now spent more than $43 million on Top End land in the last few months, totalling just over 540,000 hectares, according to documents from the NT Land Titles Office.
The Buratovich family is involved in broadacre cropping projects across Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and the US, producing wheat, barley, peas, lentils, sorghum and cotton.
Elders agent Alison Ross said Sturt Downs' crown lease tenure was a rarity in the Northern Territory, which had made it attractive to purchasers.
"Crown lease allows for other uses of hay, pasture development or other forms of agriculture, so it does make it a lot easier to do different uses," Ms Ross said.
"Obviously non-pastoral uses have come in over the past few years, making pastoral leases more flexible … however the length of time to get your non-pastoral use agreements can take a [while].
"The owners have run up to around 5,000 head of cattle there over the past few years, so there is certainly scope for further development for anyone coming in wanting to expand their herd or further development."
An investor who knows 'a hell of a lot about farming'
Cattle industry veteran David Warriner, who is a director of Cross Pacific Investments, said the Buratovich family was looking across the world for opportunities to "buy land, develop it and farm it".
He said there was still a lot of work to be done, but the company felt there were opportunities to grow crops on all three of its NT stations.
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"I think we have an investor here who knows a hell of a lot about farming in difficult environments," Mr Warriner said.
"The NT [is] maybe about to learn a lot. They are patient, will learn the local nuances, and have the capacity to do stuff.
"The NT must positively support good quality large scale developments for our own economic well being."
A dam filled with water on a property
Sturt Downs has an average annual rainfall of 1,000 millimetres, with seven bores and seasonal surface water spread across the property. (Supplied: Elders)
NT Cattlemen's Association CEO, Ashley Manicaros said he supported the purchase and the company's interest in cropping.
"I understand there's interest there to intensify the pastoral property, so not just focussing on cattle, but looking at other opportunities as well, and we would welcome that," he said.
"We think the Northern Territory's cattle industry benefits enormously from this type of intensification because of the by-products that can possibly be produced."