THE deregulation of water licencing in NSW has caused the price of farm properties throughout much of the north-west to soar in recent months.
Despite one of the worst droughts in the history of Australia, now in its fourth year, the irrigation cereal crop and cotton properties in the Moree and Narrabri areas especially have skyrocketed and this in turn is pushing non-irrigation property prices up.
Rural property salesman and company licensee for Ray White Rural Moree Tim Lyne said yesterday that irrigation properties "have gone through the roof" and instanced the recent sale for $12.1 million of the Kamilaroi Station, an approximate 2000ha cotton property some 60km west of Moree.
It had been bought by a neighbouring property holder and sold by former Moree medico Dr John Campion, now from Sydney.
Bengerang, the 1400ha irrigation cotton property at Garah, near Moree, which was sold by the late Nationals' Member for Barwon and Deputy Prime Minister Wal Murray late last century, was now on the market with Ray White Moree for an asking price of $22.5 million.
Mr Lyne said there were a large number of individual farmers and companies willing to pay good money for cropping and grazing properties and even dryland cropland was keenly sought by investors.
A 1000ha irrigation property could sell for upwards of $12,500/ha, but four to five years ago the same property would have fetched from $7500 to $8000/ha.
"By the end of this year, dryland farmers wishing to sell would be "looking at upwards of $2500/ha and certainly in excess of $2000," Mr Lyne said.
He pointed out, however, that there was considerable variation in values between properties west of Moree (to Collarenebri) and east (to Croppa Creek). Generally speaking, the eastern properties were considerably more valuable because of the superior average annual rainfall.
He also said the phasing out of conventional cropping to no-till cropping practices had turned formerly marginal country into very productive farmland ... "no-till's cut down risks by 50 per cent and more".