Farmers and energy companies are competing for land in the Isaac region pushing up prices
Farmers and energy companies are competing for land in the Isaac region pushing up prices Emma Boughen

Rush to buy land in Isaac

A MACKAY realtor specialising in farming land had cattle properties on his books for five years, but in the last 12 months they have all gone.

Prime agricultural land in Mackay and Isaac regions has been snapped up, pushing up land valuations, but it's not all for primary production.

According to Landmark Hardcourt rural land specialist Gary Johns, there is a false market at the moment with increases in the value of grazing land not only because of the high prices and strong demand for cattle, but from energy companies.

"Since the cattle price has gone up and the coal price has gone up, both are competing for land,” he said.

He said the solar boom in the area has also contributed to the rush in land sales as companies looked to secure prime sites.

"I've got energy companies asking me to approach rural landholders and they do approach landholders directly,” he said.

He said energy companies would either lease land from the farmers or if that was impossible would purchase the land. And that's exactly what's happened with a 175-hectare grazing property at Clermont.

Alternative energy company Wirsol Energy purchased a property in December at Lindley Rd, Clermont for $742,500 to build a solar farm.

According to project manager John Gannaway, the construction has begun on the site with the whole property expected to be used for solar panels when all stages are completed.

He said the company offered to lease or buy the land from the farmer.

This swell in activity has forced prices of farms in the Isaac region to skyrocket to the point where one rural lobby group has called on farmers to ensure valuations are correct.

Queensland Valuer-General Neil Bray said that new land valuations issued echoed the spur in economic activity and a continued level of optimism that surrounded rural land markets during 2017.

"This increase in rural land values can be attributed to the continued effects of strengthened beef prices and low interest rates, which have generally resulted in increases in Queensland's rural property markets,” Mr Bray said.

"Increases in rural values have generally occurred throughout the majority of areas revalued in 2018.”

According to the valuer, land in the Isaac region has increased from $1,527,448,080 to $1,814,735,610, or an increase of 18.8 per cent.

Agricultural group Agforce has warned farmers to look at their valuations closely because of the impact it has on rates.

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