THE Tasmanian rural market has received a massive confidence injection with the sale of Vaucluse, the historic 2654-hectare cropping and grazing property near Launceston, to United States food and agriculture conglomerate Cargill for $20 million.
The vast estate on Glen Esk Road in Conara in the Northern Midlands was acquired by Cargill subsidiary Black River Asset Management, a hedge fund whose other Australian investments include Billabong Station in the NSW Eurongilly Valley and sugar cane farm Marwood, near Mackay in north Queensland.
Minnesota-based Cargill is the biggest privately owned company in the US by revenue ($US135 billion) and holds $US60 billion of assets.
Vaucluse was offloaded by long-time owners Michael and Susie Warner following an expression of interest campaign run by Michael Warren, of Landmark Harcourts Tasmania.
The Warners ran about 14,000 Merino sheep and 400 Angus cattle and grew potatoes, poppies, grass seeds, canola and cereals across 700 hectares.
Also included in the sale was a restored eight-bedroom Georgian mansion dating back to the 1830s.
Landmark Harcourts Tasmania director John Hewitt said the market was in better shape this spring on the back of low interest rates, the weaker dollar and rising commodity prices.
"Land prices follow commodity prices so we should see a firming of values," he said.
While lower milk prices are holding back the dairy sector to an extent, Mr Hewitt said there was interest from overseas investors in Midlands grazing property on the back of rising beef prices and the lower dollar, with forestry assets also sought after.
"Money is coming in from Switzerland and other parts of Europe. There's also appetite from local operators," Mr Hewitt said.
This spring, Landmark Harcourts is bringing Middle Park, a 1931-hectare grazing, irrigation and forestry property at Antill Ponds, an hour from Hobart, to market with expectations between $4 million and $4.5 million.
Spread across eight titles and well-known for its wool production and, more recently, prime lambs, Middle Park includes a 160-hectare eucalyptus plantation.
Also for sale this spring through Landmark Harcourts will be the 22-hectare Panorama Vineyard and winery near Cradoc in the Huon Valley, owned and operated by winemakers Michael and Sharon Vishacki since 1997. Panorama is famed for its pinot noir and chardonnay wines.
Expectations are between $1.5 million and $2 million.
In north-west Tasmania, Robert Medwin, of Elders Rural, will bring the 160-hectare organic Forest Hill Farm near Forth to market on behalf of organic growers Ian and Gloria Benson. The farm grows carrots, onions, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, garlic and zucchini for local, interstate and Asian markets.
"There's a little more confidence. Farmers are doing better. Beef prices are up, so that's flowing through to the better quality grazing properties," Mr Medwin said.
Most interstate investor interest was for the smaller coastal properties growing things such as blueberries and strawberries and for hobby farms, he said.