Two neighbouring irrigated cotton farms in the Namoi Valley in Northern NSW have changed hands for around $35 million, including water rights.
The sales come amid the $300 million offering of cotton giant Auscott’s Midkin aggregation in the Gwydir Valley and with expectations of a smaller cotton crop next year due to the drought.
At 275 Spring Plains Road, Wire Lagoon, a 738 hectare irrigated cotton farm 15 kilometres from Wee Waa has changed hands for $11.4 million.
Wire Lagoon was offered for sale by Andrew and Kim Revell, who had owned and developed it for the past 16 years before deciding to join the macadamia industry on the NSW Far North Coast.
Selling agent James Thomas from Landmark Harcourts Narrabri said the buyer was a local farming family.
“The irrigation market is experiencing a significant increase in both demand and number of quality properties coming onto the market,” Mr Thomas said.
“The prolonged dry conditions that most of NSW and Queensland have been experiencing over the past three years have highlighted the reliability in production that irrigation properties offer,” he added.
Wire Lagoon, which includes 428 hectares of flood-protected irrigated fields, a 23-hectare storage dam as well as significant water rights, was developed for irrigation in the 1960s by pioneer Namoi cotton grower Bruce Mackey. Mr Mackey sold it to the Revells for $4.7 million in 2002.
In the second deal, Greenbah & Nullabor, two adjoining properties farmed as a single operation at 268 Spring Plains Road, were acquired by local cotton growers the Leitch family, who farm almost 2000 hectares at Ardglen in the Central North West Slopes.
Title deeds show the Leitch’s Myall Vale Holdings paid $7.1 million for the two farms, which offer 871 hectares of developed fields.
The water rights were purchased by different parties. Local insiders said the entire offering was priced at around $24 million. Selling agent Paul Kelly from Moree Real Estate declined to comment.
Greenbah and Nullabor were offered for sale by the Freer family, who were pioneers of cotton growing in the Namoi Valley.
Californian farmer Harold Freer acquired Greenbah in the mid-1960s at a time when experienced cotton farmers were being sought to open up a new industry in NSW.
According to a 2013 article in The Land, the family lived in a tin shed on Greenbah for the first few months and lost a £75,000 loan from the Bank of NSW in the 1964 flood, but persevered.
“[Harold] went back to the bank and said if you want your money back, I’ll need another £75,000,” said his son Clinton, who sold the properties to the Leitchs.
The sales of the two Namoi Valley cotton forms come as American-backed Auscott Ltd seeks a buyer for its Midkin Aggregation in the Gwydir Valley.
Midkin includes six properties that Auscott has acquired over the past four decades and a processing business that can gin 200,000 cotton bales a year.
According to an August report by Rabobank, a sub-one million bale national crop is “entirely possible” next year without late-winter rainfall. Prices are expected to remain in the $520-$580 per bale region.
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