Rising income, good crops lift rural sales

WESTERN Australia’s largest grain grower, John Nicoletti, is in final negotiations to sell swaths of farmland as he tips rural property prices to improve in the coming months.
Mr Nicoletti said there was a positive mood across rural Western Australia because many farmers had been able to reduce debt after several good seasons.
“I think there could be upside of about 10 per cent in rainfall country,” he said.
He expected a small turnaround for other areas.
Late winter rain has improved the season for farmers who harvested the state’s fourth-biggest crop last year. Combined with a record 15.9 million-tonne harvest in 2013, farmers are more confident.
“Farm debt is falling. I think there’s some farmers out there that are ready to make the most of it and acquire land,” Mr Nicoletti said.
Elders Real Estate sales manager WA Malcolm French said “no one is being silly” and recent sale prices negotiated were fair. He said more bigger farms were hitting the market, including a 10,000 acre cropping property in Geraldton. “This will be one of the state’s best farms I am bringing to market,” Mr French said, although it was too early to identify the property.
Mr French is also selling one of the biggest sheep-producing properties to hit the WA market in about two decades. Madura Plains is one of 12 stations owned by the MacLachlan family, trading under Jumbuck Pastoral. Located on the Nullarbor Plain, it is the first time Madura has been on the market since it was established by Hugh MacLachlan in the early 1960s.
Mr French said good sheep and cattle prices, low interest rates and three good seasons for grain growers had boosted confidence.
Western Australia is the nation’s biggest grain-exporting state, shipping an estimated $ 4.8 billion of wheat, canola and barley last financial year.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics & Sciences has forecast West Australian broadacre farm income to average $ 211,000 this financial year, which is 30 per cent above the decade average.

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