Con­fi­dence in agribusi­ness rises with three Emer­ald prop­er­ties ready to be sold

Central Queensland News - - FRONT PAGE - Louise Shan­non Louise.Shan­non@newsre­gional

RE­CENT rain has re­vived some con­fi­dence in Cen­tral Queens­land’s near drought-stricken state while op­ti­mism in the area’s agribusi­ness sec­tor con­tin­ues to rise.

The pend­ing sale of three ma­jor large-scale ad­join­ing agri-busi­ness prop­er­ties out­side Emer­ald – Gindie, Fair­bairn and Emer­ald Grapes – is also pre­dicted to un­lock po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion, and cul­ti­vate fur­ther con­fi­dence in the agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion sec­tor.

Direc­tor of Emer­ald’s Bren­nan Mayne Agribusi­ness, Jim Bren­nan, said this week the rain had pro­vided a “tremen­dous” start to the sea­son: “The sort of rain, and the amount we’ve had … it’s great to see.”

Mr Bren­nan said he be­lieved there was cur­rently a sound plat­form for sus­tain­able growth for the re­gion.

“I’ve got enor­mous con­fi­dence in the fu­ture of agribusi­ness in Cen­tral Queens­land,” he said.

The three prop­er­ties cur­rently for sale – with a clos­ing date of October 30 – were part of a “pent-up” mar­ket, mean­ing the re­gion was likely to see land prices con­tinue to strengthen.

Mr Bren­nan said there were “very few prop­er­ties of vi­able scale” avail­able on the ru­ral prop­erty mar­ket.

“I think it demon­strates that those sec­tors are prof­itable,” he said.

“That’s cer­tainly what we’re see­ing in our busi­ness, and that’s def­i­nitely good for the re­gion.”

Mr Bren­nan said the flow-on ef­fects were also pos­i­tive as, when prop­er­ties were prof­itable, own­ers spent more on them; for ex­am­ple, im­prov­ing pas­tures, water fa­cil­i­ties, fenc­ing and yards.

“There’s also more money be­ing spent on equip­ment up­grades. Cer­tainly busi­nesses that are prof­itable are good for the re­gion,” he said.

Mr Bren­nan said cit­rus and grapes were pro­duc­tive, and there was also an ex­pand­ing ma­cadamia in­dus­try.

“Any­thing to do with hor­ti­cul­ture and viti­cul­ture in­volves a big in­vest­ment, and there’s a lot of money go­ing in to es­tab­lish it.

“And once it comes to har­vest­ing, they’re very labour-in­ten­sive so, for growth, those in­dus­tries are good for the re­gion.

“In Aus­tralian terms, Cen­tral Queens­land is rel­a­tively re­li­able and highly pro­duc­tive fer­tile coun­try and, gen­er­ally, the agribusi­ness en­ter­prises are of suf­fi­cient scale to be vi­able.

“I think Cen­tral Queens­land broadly is in a sound fi­nan­cial po­si­tion and that places it well for fu­ture growth and ex­pan­sion.”

Col­liers In­ter­na­tional as­so­ciate direc­tor trans­ac­tion ser­vices, ru­ral and agribusi­ness, Ben For­rest, said the three size­able prop­er­ties for sale – cur­rently un­der sin­gle own­er­ship – were proof of the re­gion’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties for vari­able pro­duc­tion and rep­re­sented a cur­rent boost of op­ti­mism in agribusi­ness.

Mr For­rest said the sales were be­ing sep­a­rated by “sec­tor, type and pur­pose” with Gindie fo­cussed on ir­ri­ga­tion and dry-land farm­ing, Fair­bairn – a for­mer cit­rus plan­ta­tion – now an op­por­tu­nity for po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment, and Emer­ald Grapes an es­tab­lished grape and ly­chee op­er­a­tion.

They are be­ing sold in­di­vid­u­ally or as an ag­gre­ga­tion.

Mr For­rest be­lieved the sale could “un­lock some de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial in the area” with some of the land cur­rently un­der-used.

He said the prop­er­ties, 10km-20km from Emer­ald and near the air­port, all had in­fra­struc­ture to source water from Lake Mara­boon.

“Around Emer­ald, this is a bit of a one-off be­cause of the three as­sets to­gether. But in terms of their in­di­vid­ual iden­tity, it’s com­mon trad­ing.”

He said the agribusi­ness sec­tor had been strength­en­ing over the past few years and was set to bring back prof­itabil­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity to the re­gion.

“The prop­er­ties are in a strate­gic lo­ca­tion and, in the long-run, will re­ally be sought af­ter. The water is what re­ally un­locks this en­ter­prise. It un­der­pins the op­er­a­tion.”

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