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Australia: Expanding farming families spend big on livestock stations

Demand remains high for good quality livestock farms, such as Thulabin at Conargo. which sold at auction for $5.44m to Ross and Claire Martin. 
Australian Financial Review | 2 October 2022

Expanding farming families spend big on livestock stations

by Larry Schlesinger
 
Rising interest rates and higher production costs have failed to dent the appetite for prime livestock stations as demand from cashed-up farming families looking to expand outweighs a limited supply of properties for sale.
 
“The market is still very buoyant for good quality assets,” said Elders Deniliquin real estate manager Matt Horne, whose team has brokered more than $50 million in pastoral sales in the NSW Riverina in the past few months.
 
“While commodity prices are strong and there are forecasts of good solid rains, I can’t see the market cooling down too much,” Mr Horne said.
 
In addition, with very few opportunities to purchase quality assets, farmers were making the most of any good offerings when they came up, Mr Horne said.
 
These included 43,334ha Glen Emu Station near Balranald in the southern Riverina which sold for $16.1 million at auction last month to pastoralists Bill and Pip Ryan. The Ryans are based at Curragh (650 km to the east) where they breed Poll Merino sheep and beef cattle.
 
Also selling at auction through the Elders Deniliquin office was the 6103-hectare Eriwah and Gum Creek aggregation near Carrathool in the Western Riverina region east of Hay.
 
Offered by Cameron and Therese Townsend, and owned by the Boyd and Townsend families for 111 and 83 years respectively, the aggregation was bought for $9.6 million by a two-family partnership comprising Jim and Jane Ives and Mick and Stephanie Cattanach.
 
Highlighting the depth of demand, the two families saw off competition from seven other bidders in front of a crowd of 60 at the Homebush Hotel.
 
Mr Cattanach was one of the founders of Emerald Grain in 2004, which was bought by Japanese commodity conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation in 2014 and in 2020, by private equity firm Roc Partners.
 
Other notable Riverina deals included 856ha Thulabin at Conargo, which sold at auction last month for $5.44 million to Ross and Clare Martin, who were one of six registered bidders. The Martins will add the property to a large mixed farming enterprise producing livestock, winter cereals and rice across various properties in the Riverina.
 
In July, another noteworthy sale in the Riverina was the 9.921ha Rhyola and Inverness aggregation near Deniliquin which sold at auction for $16 million.
 
The well-known sheep property offered for sale by the James family was bought by Merino sheep farmers Ian and Camilla Shippen, who are based at Moulamein, about 100 km north-west of Deniliquin.
 
A two-family partnership paid almost $10m for Eriwah and Gum Creek near Carrathool. 
 
Other small deals in the Riverina include 392ha Warenda at Jerilderie, purchased for $3.58 million at auction by RNH Grazing, and 259ha Devonleigh at Mathoura, purchased off market for $3.74 million by Chris and Joelle Powell from Axedale, east of Bendigo.
 
In SA’s Limestone Coast, Elders Robe agent Grant Schubert said he expected a further 5 to 10 per cent rise in farmland values in the region, on top of already big gains in prior years, because “there are too many buyers and not enough listings”.
 
Last month, Mr Schubert sold Woodlands, a 1074ha mixed-farming property in the Clay Wells district for $14 million after it was offered for the first time in 70 years by Jeff Tucker and Maggie Harris-Jones, who are retiring to nearby Millicent.
 
Woodlands, best known for its Tuckwood Poll Merino sheep stud, sold in two portions to two well-established local farming operators, the Andrea family and the Varcoe family.
 
“The buyers are serious operators with large holdings,” Mr Schubert said.
 
Highlighting the depth of demand in the region, an expressions of interest campaign generated 23 inspections and 15 submissions to purchase.
 
“The real buyers are still out there and are seeking to expand. Rising interest rates are slowing the mum and dad operators but not the big hitters,” Mr Schubert said.
  • Icon-world  AFR
  • 02 Oct 2022

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