Investment company buying up dairy farms in northern Victoria

Investment company goFARM is now managing 25 farms between Shepparton and Cobram as part of its goal of developing high value horticulture on former dairy farms.

Owned by managing director Liam Lenaghan and the Melbourne-based Costa family, the company is gradually converting farms to horticulture, including citrus and almonds.

About half are continuing to operate as dairy farms and the other half are directly managed as they transition to horticulture.

goFARM managing director Liam Lenaghan and Nick Raleigh in a barley crop at Yalca.

Some are being cropped during the transition, undergoing deep ripping, with heavy applications of gypsum and manure.

“The soil condition is turning out to be better than we expected,” Mr Lenaghan told Country News.

“It’s expensive but not particularly so in terms of the end value.”

About 200 ha of almonds are expected to go into one farm.

Mr Lenaghan, who is from a fifth generation farming family, said one experimental plot would use robotic services.

While Mr Lenaghan is aware some farmers treat investment companies with some suspicion, he said changes in the farming landscape could be seen as threatening and he invited other farmers to judge them on their actions.

“We are creating different kinds of jobs here, with some outside expertise as well.”

He said the company was providing economic development and employment.

“We would like to see the GMID region become an investment hot-spot.’’

The northern Victorian properties are part of a 70,000-hectare portfolio in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, purchased by the company since it was established in 2013.

The company recently appointed Rob Brooks as its new chief investment officer.

Mr Lenaghan said Mr Brooks’ extensive experience, network and reputation in agricultural investment and management would boost their management capability, help to attract further capital and operate at a scale which will enable them to deliver their goals.

Mr Brooks has worked at a number of agricultural investment and management companies including AWARE Water Group, Summit Global Management and Elders Rural Bank. He has also worked for Telstra and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He has Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of Queensland and has completed a private equity and venture capital course at Harvard University.

By Geoff Adams – Shepparton News