SAF sells to TIAA-CREF
The Sustainable Agriculture Fund (SAF) has sold 10 NSW and Victorian properties for reportedly about $110 million to overseas superannuation giant TIAA-CREF Global Ag Properties.
AgCAP, which manages the super fund-owned SAF, sold the tranche of properties with a combined area of 16,000 hectares after the fund manager received no acceptable bid for a total portfolio of 17 SAF properties on offer.
It owned 23,000ha of quality farmland from King Island to North West NSW’s golden triangle.
The buyer’s asset manager, Westchester Agricultural Asset Management headed by US chief executive, Randall Pope, is understood to have struck a number of arrangements with local farming businesses over the plant, equipment and crops associated with the different properties.
"AgCAP believes these transactions are in the best interest of the shareholders and our staff, and the future management of the assets," AgCAP general manager of strategy, Deo de Jesus said.
Rifa reaps $7.3m profit
Chinese-owned Rifa Salutary has confirmed its best profit result since the manufacturing and investment giant, Zhejiang Rifa Holding Group, established its Australian farming business in 2014.
It reported a $7.23 million net profit for the 2017 financial year, up from $4.64m, with its underlying profit at $16.3m, up from $7.43 million in 2015-16.
Chief executive officer, David Goodfellow, said the result was driven by growth in farm and livestock ownership.
"It's a very pleasing result for us, particularly given we absorbed significant costs of stamp duty and [Foreign Investment Review Board] fees as we acquired 11 new properties during the year," he said.
In northern NSW Rifa Salutary bought four adjoining properties near Nundle in for $60m, and four near Warialda for $15m and two properties in Victoria’s lower Mallee for $9m.
Rifa has more than 48,000 hectares in Australia and agricultural holdings in China, Brazil, Argentina and Kazakhstan.
Fert service honoured
Members of the fertiliser industry have honoured two of their finest contributors, Garry Kuhn, who retired last month after 43 years with Incitec Pivot Fertilisers and Dr Rob Norton, who is ending a lifelong career in agricultural research and education.
Dr Norton is regional director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI).
At the Fertiliser 2017 conference in Torquay, Victoria, Fertilizer Australia chief executive officer, Nick Drew, described Mr Kuhn as a valuable contributor to the industry’s training and accreditation program, Fertcare, and other issues.
He trained thousands of agronomists and other staff in the fundamentals of plant nutrition and fertiliser stewardship during his career.
Dr Norton has been a recognised as an expert in agronomy and crop nutrition of grain crops, especially canola.
He was renowned for taking the most technical and complex issues, boiling them down to their practical essence, and delivering them in an understandable way, Mr Drew said.
He previously worked for The University of Melbourne at Horsham for 30 years, where he led projects on how climate change affects grain crops, soil and plant nutrition, oilseed agronomy, crop water use, alternative grain crops and farming systems.
Ag business mood falters
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute SME Index has reached 100.7, breaking above the neutral 100 mark for the first time in 2017.
However, the small to medium enterprise index showed a significant dip in confidence in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, dropping 15.1 per cent as warmer temperatures across Australia and low rainfall hampered farm sector prospects.
Other factors were increases in overheads and costs (identified by 82.6pc of ag sector respondents) and declining profits (13.4pc).
“Cost pressures appear to have been a bigger factor for the agricultural sector,” said Westpac senior economist, Matthew Hassan.
“Falling rural commodity prices and a warm, dry winter may also have weighed on sentiment, reversing some of the positives from above average rainfall earlier in the year.”
Overall, the index showed business confidence rose by 3.2pc in the third quarter of the year, shifting from 97.6 in the second quarter of 2017 to 100.7.
NSW exporter finalists
The Export Council of Australia (ECA) has confirmed agribusiness entries, Down Under Enterprises, Fettayleh Foods, Next Instruments,
Superbee Honey Factory, and animal health company, Virbac Australia as finalists for 2017 Premier’s NSW Export Awards.
ECA chief executive officer, Lisa McAuley, said the export awards rewarded businesses which had shown a commitment and determination to grow their global business and who, against adversity, sought new ways to compete on the international stage.
This year’s awards ceremony would be celebrating and recognising opportunities emerging for NSW companies in Latin America.
“As Australia enters negotiations over a free trade agreement with the Pacific Alliance, an excellent opportunity emerges to place these countries top-of-mind among Australian companies evaluating new market and diversification opportunities,” she said.
The awards ceremony will be held on October 25.