Varley aggregation sold for $8.7m

Varley aggregation sold for $8.7m


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Broadacre aggregation Minni Downs and Rockwater, Varley, has been bought by Australian Food & Farming Pty Ltd (AFF) for $8.7 million.

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BROADACRE aggregation Minni Downs and Rockwater, Varley, has been bought by Australian Food & Farming Pty Ltd (AFF) for $8.7 million.

Not named after its size, the 7559 hectare property was owned by Peter and Lynette Gittos.

The sale price equates to $1177.40 per hectare.

During the 2018/19 spring and summer selling season, the property was one of the larger properties on the market.

New South Wales-based AFF is an Australian-owned sheep meat producer which operates in Western Australia and NSW.

AFF uses a regenerative farming approach and its preferred sheep breed is Dorper.

AFF director David Anderson said the property appealed to the company for many reasons.

"It was within our target size and was reasonably priced as we had looked at Western Australian pricing in a fair bit of detail and identified the Hyden area as attractive," Mr Anderson said.

"It was in a reasonably reliable rainfall zone for its pricing.

"Our general manager also owns a place nearby, so knows the area well.

"It had also been well run by the previous owners and we liked that as well.

"Finally, it nicely complemented our two other properties in the area, being sufficiently close to ensure they can be managed as one but at the same time having slightly different rainfall and soils."

Mr Anderson said that in WA, AFF now own 16,500ha and leased a further 4000ha.

Prior to the sale, Minni Downs and Rockwater had been farmed as a cropping only enterprise for some time.

AFF plans to introduce sheep back onto the farm.

"Our plan (for the property) is that it will be run as a mixed cropping and sheep operation," Mr Anderson said.

"The aim will be to move gradually toward sheep forming a larger part of our operations over a three-year period.

"AFF produces Dorper sheep and also has a secondary cropping operation.

"We aim to become a fully integrated producer of sheep meat."

According to AFF's Investor Update report for February and March 2019, in WA the company has 3409ha planted to wheat, 4523ha of barley, 1875ha of oats and 4355ha of pasture.

The company's livestock enterprise in WA includes Dorpers and Merinos, with 1000 stud ewes and 3457 commercial ewes.

Its NSW flock (Dorpers) is slightly smaller with 2365 commercial ewes and 631 lambs (2018 drop).

The report also stated that the company's preference for WA land was for dry-land assets, "given reliable rainfall and productivity", whereas it has 685 megalitres for its NSW properties.

In October 2018 AFF purchased Echidna Ridge, Pingrup, at auction for $4.3m from Kate Jefferies.

Measuring 3560ha, the sale equated to $1207.87/ha, only slightly above AFF's most recent purchase, although it was a much smaller offering.

Late last year Minni Downs and Rockwater was advertised with a price tag of $8.9m.

Elders real estate specialist Jeff Douglas, Narrogin, handled the campaign and said there was good interest in the property but its large size limited the number of potential buyers.

"The market in the regions that I operate is very strong - there is good demand and limited supply of farmland, so it is a great time to sell," Mr Douglas said.

"The way that there is precious land on the market suggests that the price will rise.

"It's easier to sell a farm than it is to list it which is a good indication that land values will increase - by how much is anyone's guess."

This property has two full sets of infrastructure and accommodation comprises two homesteads and two workers' cottages.

The property has good water supplies from dams and tanks with a feature of the parcel Rockwater being the water harvested from the large rock from where the property takes its name.

Soil types are easy working medium soils which have benefitted from years of tram line and no-till farming.

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