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Milton Downs sells to district farming family

Liz Wells, April 26, 2022

Milton Downs at Bellata is a major producer of grain and dryland cotton. Photo: Moree Real Estate

ONE of Australia’s biggest and best-known cropping properties, Milton Downs, near Moree in north-west New South Wales, has sold for an undisclosed price to a young family already cropping in the wider region.

The 19,060-hectare property is located west of Bellata and north of Wee Waa, and listed for sale last year with Moree Real Estate on behalf of vendor Ron Greentree.

The Kahlbetzer family’s Twynam Agricultural Group sold Milton Downs and the nearby Boolcarrol at Wee Waa in 2008 for a reported $75 million to Greentree Farming, a partnership between Mr Greentree and the Harris family.

This added around 48,000ha of primarily cropping country to the now defunct Greentree Farming portfolio spread across the north-west plains of NSW.

Prior to Twynam’s purchase, Milton Downs was owned by the Honan family’s Manildra Group, which used the property to produce high-protein wheat for its milling operations.

Across Australia, planting of winter crops has started after good rain in most regions, and sources report crop is already going in on Milton Downs following last month’s on-property clearing sale, account Greentree Ag.

Eight years on

Greentree Farming first listed Milton Downs and Boolcarrol for sale in 2014 with Ray White Rural.

As part of the Greentree Farming wind-up, the Harris family now owns Boolcarrol outright, and in September 2016, The Australian Financial Review reported 10,000ha in the south-eastern part of the Milton Downs aggregation sold to US investment company Westchester for around $50M.

Milton Downs’ average rainfall in the 10 years to 2020 was 592 millimetres, and country comprises black and grey self-mulching loams suited to summer and winter crops.

A crippling drought which spread into southern Queensland impacted most of NSW’s cropping country from 2017 to 2019, and slowed activity in the state’s property market.

A return to good seasons, coupled with strong grain and cotton prices and low interest rates, has seen a resurgence in sales since 2020 to family and corporate interests.

Transactions include: Tiela at Bullarah;  Merrimbla at Gurley, and South Callandoon at Goondiwindi.

Moree Real Estate declined to comment on any aspect of the Milton Downs sale, and the buyer and vendor have not responded to calls from Grain Central.

Grain Central understands Mr Greentree continues to run a family farming operation based at Mungindi on the NSW-Queensland border, and also has an involvement with cotton-growing in Western Australia’s Ord region.

 

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