No rush for marginal land

11 Dec, 2007 09:00 PM
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A LEADING independent WA rural real estate agency has predicted a bleak time ahead for those farmers looking to sell land in marginal areas of the WA Wheatbelt.

VNW Independent director Simon Wilding said the opportunity for significant gains from selling farm land in marginal country in WA was limited with little sign of improving.

Speaking at the annual Outlook Conference for the Australian Association of Agricultural Consultants (AAAC) in Perth recently, Mr Wilding said the future for an immediate land price recovery was limited.

“The words climate change have instilled more than a shadow of doubt in the minds of most (potential buyers) and we suspect that even one or two seasons won’t see a rush back into the regions described loosely as marginal,” Mr Wilding said.

Mr Wilding said media speculation was substantially overstated when it suggested that cashed up southern farmers were rushing to take advantage of cheap farms and forced sales in the northern agricultural region.

He said VNW Independent had received only one inquiry this year from a southern farmer looking to take advantage of the current oversupply of drought affected farms in marginal country.

“Our observation is that the southern farmers are much more likely to be extremely competitive instead in purchasing neighbouring property, or at least property with a similar rainfall, and production record of their own,” he said.

Despite the devastating impact of the drought to farms and businesses in the north eastern Wheatbelt, where crops and livestock have been stripped to almost plague proportions during the past two seasons, the outlook for other farm land in WA remained positive.

Mr Wilding said pastoral country continued to be a solid performer.

He said both cattle and sheep stations had steady increases in land values and continued speculation about the future of the live export industry had failed to dampen expectations.

But there were two caveats, Mr Wilding said.

Buyers were selective, seeking land they considered to be the most productive with the greatest carrying capacity, and the live export industry would survive the current politics of the live trade debate.

“That being the case, then pastoral country would appear to remain a solid investment opportunity,” Mr Wilding said.

Mr Wilding said there was no doubt that most farmers had focussed their attentions on reliable rainfall and good soil types, especially with high commodity prices.

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