Murray Valley development open for EOI

Grain Central February 21, 2022

Sandmount Farms in Northern Victoria covers 6298ha and includes a 50,000ML water entitlement. Photo: LAWD

SANDMOUNT Farms in Victoria’s Murray Valley region is now up for sale by international expressions of interest, with the portfolio a prime example of the trend towards turning existing operations into climate secure horticulture developments.

Presented by LAWD for vendor, goFARM, the 6298 hectares portfolio is located 45 kilometres north of Shepparton at Katunga.

It includes more than 50,000 megalitres of water entitlements, approximately 28,000ML  of which are high-security water, to make it the largest water portfolio in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.

Following a nationwide search for climate-secure horticultural opportunities, goFARM aggregated more than 70 individual mostly former dairy holdings and water rights transactions since 2018.

Valued at more than $250 million, the existing development includes the establishment of more than 200ha of almonds and 70ha of seedless mandarins.

The balance of land is currently utilised for irrigated and rainfed row cropping  corn, barley, wheat, canola and faba bean.

Of the total land area, approximately 4000ha is suited to horticultural production and the balance, approximately 1500ha, to row crops.

LAWD senior director, Danny Thomas, said at its current development stage, with approvals and designs in place, the versatile land and water portfolio would attract institutions and large corporate investors in search of a venture with an accelerated timeline.

“goFARM has accomplished its investment goal to ready Sandmount Farms for development into a world-class horticultural production hub, supported by unparalleled access to water, labour, markets and infrastructure, and now estimates a further $200M, or $50,000/ha, in investment is required to capture its full value,” Mr Thomas said.

Sandmount Farms currently includes more than 200ha of almonds and 70ha of seedless mandarins

Award for innovation

Awarded the Australian Property Institute’s 2021 Innovation in Property Award for innovative and sustainable development, the portfolio of predominantly sandy loam soils has undergone soil amelioration and capital improvement.

It is now seen as ready for further development to permanent horticulture, including nuts, citrus and tree fruits.

goFARM Managing Director, Liam Lenaghan, said Sandmount Farms was the result of the future focused, strategic acquisition of assets to create scale and water security rarely seen in global primary production.

“Incumbent horticultural growing regions are increasingly facing water access and delivery issues, increasing climate-induced stress, such as heat stress and declining chill units, and labour shortages,” Mr Lenaghan said.

“Through our research we identified this region, and the properties that now sit within the Sandmount Farms Portfolio, as the best in Australia for addressing these issues and sustainably growing high-value crops now, and into the future.

Mr Lenaghan said the portfolio, major investment has been made in detailed land-capability assessments, the delivery of an independent climate and horticultural review.

“The time is now right to open up this landmark project to a new pool of equity capital to realise its full potential.”

Strong on water

Based in Melbourne, goFARMS also owns and operates the 11,500ha Morundah Farms between Narrandera and Jerilderie in southern New South Wales.

Morundah Farms, which aggregated Yarrabee Park and Gidgell Irrigation, listed with Elders Rural Real Estate last year.

It is under contract, and is expected to settle in coming weeks.

South of Balranald, also in southern NSW, is the 10,000ha Canally Almond Orchards, which goFARMS is developing in partnership with a US agricultural fund.

Source: LAWD, goFARM


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