One of Australia’s largest and most expensive farms has hit the market, with the owners of the prized Boolcarrol-Milton Downs properties outside Moree in northern NSW putting the $200 million asset on the sale block.
The nation’s single biggest grain farmer, Ron Greentree, and partner Ken Harris have put the farm up for sale as wheat prices rise in the face of global instability.
The industry is enjoying a turnaround from the tough conditions and high costs that Mr Greentree, a former Graincorp chairman, said marred the industry just a year earlier.
Selling agent Ray White Rural’s Bruce Gunning said it was the largest farming property that had been offered for quite some time and would draw national and offshore interest.
He admitted that farming was governed by the weather — and that it had been tough. “We’ve had a drought there, we’ve had a flood and a frost,” he said.
But he expects buyers to be drawn in by the rich soil of the 47,800ha property, which has been overhauled from mixed farming since it was bought by Mr Greentree and Mr Harris in early 2008 from Twynam Pastoral for about $75m.
About 90 per cent of the land area is cultivated, with wheat and barley the main crops.
Mr Gunning said the property could be bought as a whole or be carved up into 10 pieces, which could allow local farmers to buy some smaller land parcels. “The strategy was to give everybody a level playing field so smaller operators could buy smaller properties and get something they could afford,” he said.
Offering up the land to small-timers is close to the vendor’s heart; before Mr Greentree built his empire he began as a lawnmowing contractor before moving into hay baling and ploughing.
But more than likely Mr Greentree will be chased by the gaggle of foreign groups swooping on Australian agricultural assets, with business ranging from cattle stations to cotton farms changing hands at premium prices. The sale could set benchmarks for grain farms and is well within the price range of foreign buyers who have targeted rural land and faming businesses.