Aussie grain giant puts mega farm up for sale

Harvesting and grain storage are massive affairs on John Nicoletti’s farm. | Photo supplied by John Nicoletti

The owner of the 495,000 acre farm is asking $72 to $82 million
for what is one of Australia’s largest arable operations

One of Australia’s biggest arable farms extending to 495,000 acres is up for sale at a price tag of $72 to $82 million.

Western Australian grain giant John Nicoletti decided to retire from grain farming at 64 years old.

The sale represents the biggest offering of a single parcel of broad acre farming land ever to be sold in Australia and is being handled by commercial real estate company CBRE’s head of agribusiness, Danny Thomas.

The sale includes about 189,000 acres of freehold land, of which about 155,000 acres are arable, plus 234,000 acres of leasehold land, which will be assigned to the purchaser.

More than 30 farms are based on the land located at Nicoletti’s home town of Merredin and also at Bodallin, Moorine Rock, Westonia, Southern Cross, Mukinbudin, Bullfinch and Marvel Loch, plus Daisy Downs at Mullewa.

The sale includes a flock of 50,000 Merino ewes plus progeny. It also includes a list of equipment, including 14 combines, 12 seeders, seven sprayers, 13 large tractors and seven smaller tractors, plus four speed tillers.

There are also about 25 dwellings in the sale plus a silo complex with 15,000 tonnes of vertical storage adjacent to CBH Homes at Merredin.

Three years ago, Nicoletti sold 173,000 acres for $36 million to an Asian businessman to pay off debts that had mounted after a string of poor harvests.

A 10- year lease-back agreement for that land was put in place. The remaining seven years of that arrangement will be assigned to the buyers in the current sale.

Although Nicoletti is giving up farming, he said he is not retiring and is going to put more energy into his six John Deere dealerships situated throughout Australia’s wheat belt and the company headquarters in Perth.

“I’m 64, going on 65. If I was 10 years younger I wouldn’t be doing this. I have one son and two daughters and all of them already have plenty of land.

“I feel the time is right to exit farming. Having spoken to a number of people around the globe, the conclusion is that there is currently a lot of money to deploy to agriculture now.

“Agriculture has a bit of a flavour to it now so I decided now is the right time. I don’t have to sell but it’s all about timing. Let’s see if it sells or not,” he said.

Nicoletti said he expected planting will go ahead as normal this year, setting the crops up for a new buyer.

“There are a further 25 people working full time on the farms as well as additional seasonal staff. Some of them have been with me a long time. I have been successful but only because I surrounded myself with good people to work with. I also want to make sure the staff will be well supported by any new buyer.”

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