De­mand for farm­land de­spite dip

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

TAS­MA­NIAN farm­land re­mains in strong de­mand de­spite a down­ward trend in over­all ru­ral prop­erty sales.

The Ru­ral Bank’s Aus­tralian Farm­land Val­ues re­port shows the num­ber of ru­ral prop­erty sales in Tas­ma­nia fell by 15 per cent in 2016, a de­cline for the third con­sec­u­tive year.

The re­port de­tails trans­ac­tions of land 15ha and larger.

Last year also saw a 30 per cent drop in the area of farm­land sold to 20,809ha.

Over­all the value of the land sold also fell by 28 per cent to $153.9 mil­lion.

Dur­ing the past four years the av­er­age me­dian price of farm­land in Tas­ma­nia has in­creased by 4.4 per cent and last year was $8673 per hectare.

The re­port shows the me­dian price has fluc­tu­ated sig­nif­i­cantly year on year since 2009, with changes be­tween 8.8 per cent and 35.9 per cent.

Dur­ing 2016 the area traded rep­re­sented about 1.2 per cent of Tas­ma­nia’s farm­land.

Land­mark Har­courts real es­tate agent John He­witt said while the num­ber of prop­er­ties sold last year at 184 was lower than 216 in 2015, the sale val­ues de­pended heav­ily on the type of prop­er­ties be­ing sold.

How­ever, Mr He­witt said the cur­rent ru­ral mar­ket in Tas­ma­nia was buoy­ant with very strong de­mand and in­creas­ing prices.

He said in­ter­est in larger mixed crop­ping and live­stock en­ter­prises with ir­ri­ga­tion had grown sig­nif­i­cantly over the past cou­ple of years.

Mr He­witt said high live­stock prices had helped to un­der­pin an in­crease in prices of 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

While fluc­tu­at­ing milk prices have kept a lid on the in­crease in value of dairy farms, Mr He­witt said in­ter­est from cor­po­rate buy­ers, par­tic­u­larly from the United States and Europe, was sig­nif­i­cant.

“Dairy prices have been a bit flat be­cause of milk prices but cor­po­rates are still look­ing to buy prop­er­ties here.

“These com­pa­nies are def­i­nitely look­ing for larger-scale prop­er­ties. The dairy prices haven’t moved, but the num­ber of sales has in­creased.”

The ex­pan­sion of ir­ri­ga­tion also cre­ates de­mand and Mr He­witt said crop­ping prop­er­ties with the po­ten­tial for dairy con­ver­sion were sought af­ter.

“It’s cer­tainly help­ing, there is no doubt about it’s cre­at­ing in­ter­est,” he said.

Over 20 years, growth in the me­dian value of larger land parcels has been good, with av­er­age an­nual lift of 7.1 per cent for sales of 80ha to 149ha and 9.3 per cent for 150ha and up.

The na­tional me­dian farm­land price in­creased by 9.3 per cent in 2016 af­ter a 5.3 per cent lift in 2015 and a 6.8 per cent in­crease in 2014.

Dairy prices have been a bit flat but cor­po­rates are still look­ing to buy here JOHN HE­WITT

CHI­NESE own­er­ship of Aus­tralian farm­land has in­creased by 2.6 mil­lion hectares in 12 months.

The in­crease was driven by the sale of pas­toral com­pany S Kid­man & Co, the na­tion’s largest cat­tle prop­erty.

Chi­nese in­vestors now own 25 per cent of for­eign-held land or 2.5 per cent of all agri­cul­tural land in Aus­tralia, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased last week.

How­ever, de­spite the in­crease in Chi­nese own­er­ship, Bri­tain still re­mains Aus­tralia’s largest for­eign in­vestor in agri­cul­tural land.

Bri­tish in­vestors own about 27 per cent of agri­cu­tu­ral land held by for­eign­ers, or 2.6 per cent of Aus­tralia’s to­tal agri­cul­tural land.

In­vestors from the United States were in third place with hold­ings of 0.7 per cent of agri­cul­tural land.

The land reg­is­ter shows for­eign in­vestors held just 13.6 per cent of all Aus­tralian land in June 2017, down from an ad­justed 14.1 per cent the pre­vi­ous year.

For­eign own­er­ship has plum­meted by 33 per cent in South Aus­tralia and gone down by 11 per cent in Queens­land and by 10 per cent in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Over­seas in­vestors have bought up more land in Western Aus­tralia but for­eign own­er­ship still rep­re­sents less than 17 per cent of the state’s agri­cul­tural land.

Trea­surer Scott Mor­ri­son said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment un­der­stood “that trade and for­eign in­vest­ment cre­ates jobs for Aus­tralians, and al­ways will” .

He said the Gov­ern­ment had taken “con­sis­tent and de­ter­mined ac­tion” to en­sured for­eign in­vest­ment is not con­trary to the na­tional in­ter­est.”

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