Duxton plans Timberscombe sale to fund Vic, NT spends

Emma Alsop, November 27, 2023

DUXTON Farms is listing its extensive Timberscombe aggregation to further diversify out of grain and canola production in New South Wales with an eye to investment in Victoria and the Northern Territory.

Duxton currently owns 23,406ha of mixed-farming land in central NSW and leases 1185ha in Piambie, Victoria, and the 141,000ha Mountain Valley cattle station in the NT.

The ASX-listed company today announced its intention to sell its largest property, Timberscombe, an 8432ha dryland cropping operation located 30km north-east of West Wyalong.

A cornerstone of the company’s winter-cropping program for the past six seasons, Timberscombe was valued at $59 million in June.

LAWD will handle the listing of the property, which includes 7850ha of arable country as well as extensive grain-storage facilities, plus dwellings, workshops, and machinery sheds.

“I personally regard Timberscombe as one of the most unique broadacre properties in central and southern NSW,” Duxton Farms director Wade Dabinett told the company’s AGM.

“Its productive capacity is enormous, and we would normally expect to pull about half of our winter crop off Timberscombe each year.”

Mr Dabinett said Timberscombe no longer fitted the company’s strategic direction to broaden its exposure to Australian agriculture into other states as well as mixed farming.

“While the board is certainly looking to build scale in the portfolio, it is a responsibility to carefully manage our geographic concentration.

“The past five years have demonstrated that, at this point in time, the company’s too exposed to dryland cropping in the Central West of NSW.

“It doesn’t mean Duxton Farms is exiting the region…we are just looking to shift our aggregation and our focus to mixed-farming assets and not be so exposed to one big chunk.”

NT interests gain momentum

Mr Dabinett said a portion of the funds from the sale would be used to invest in the company’s newest projects, building a cattle herd and cropping program at Mountain Valley, and developing a pistachio plantation at Piambie.

Duxton Farms general manager Bryan Goldsmith said the initial goal was to build the livestock and forage-crop programs at Mountain Valley.

He said in the long term the company would look into growing cash crops including cotton.

“We continue our work to develop areas for cropping in the long term,” Mr Goldsmith said.

“Right now, our focus is on getting Mountain Valley fully stocked and operating efficiently as a cattle station.”

NT-based director appointed

At the AGM, Duxton Farms also announced the appointment of Paul Burke as an independent director to add further NT expertise to the board.

Mr Burke previously held roles as the CEO of NT Farmers and the head of the NT Cattlemen’s Association.

He said the NT was primed for agricultural expansion and diversification.

“We are seeing significant investment, and we are seeing a real diversification in operation and that is witnessed by the development of the cotton industry of the north,” Mr Burke said.

“I am also working with the general manager and the investment manager on another opportunity which, if realised, will see Duxton Farms establish its own permanent foothold in the region and which I believe is one of the most interesting and promising projects in Australian agriculture currently.”

Cropping program recovers

Mr Goldsmith said Duxton Farms’ winter-crop harvest and summer plantings were progressing well.

He said this was a welcome change from the 2022 financial year, which saw no summer crops planted and about 80 percent of winter crops lost due to prolonged flooding.

This outcome resulted in the company’s largest ever net loss of $10.1M.

“I’m very happy to say that we’re able to plant and grow a full winter cropping program this year, which finished well in hot dry conditions.

“We’re currently well into harvest with seven headers, which actually has now grown to nine, running across the NSW aggregation with yields generally even meeting or exceeding expectations.

“We currently expect somewhere in the range of 40,000-50,000 tonnes of total production, although we will need to wait till the end of harvests to finalise these results.

“I’m very pleased to say that we’ve successfully planted a full cotton crop this year as well, with currently about 670ha having been sown irrigated, and it’s all emerged well.

“This puts us in a position to cultivate the company’s first substantial cotton crop since the 2021 financial year.”


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