Gerry Harvey to get milking in $80m Victorian dairy farm deal

BRW Rich Lister and retailer Gerry Harvey is set to become the latest billionaire ploughing money into Australia's dairy farming sector with a stake of up to $80 million headed for the highly regarded Coomboona Holsteins operation in Victoria.
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Mr Harvey’s investment in the 2000-hectare Coomboona property, north west of Shepparton, was likely to involve the construction of three huge sheds milking 6000 cows with the modern feeding method known as total mixed ration.
The deal, which The Australian Financial Review understood was going through a sensitive approvals stage, would follow billionaire Gina Rinehart’s investments in dairy farms around Australia over the last 12 months.
Ms Rinehart’s Hope Dairies, which was buying as much as 5000 hectares of dairy farms in the Mary Valley in Queensland’s south east, had been progressing well since she joined forces with Chinese industrial giant China National Machinery Industry Corporation in a $500 million joint venture to export infant milk powder.
In January Ms Rinehart added to her portfolio with a joint venture position in WA’s Bannister Downs Dairy which included family-owned companies, Northcliffe dairy farmers Mathew and Suzanne Daubney’s Bannister Downs Dairy. That investment would centre on the construction of a $20 million purpose-built processing facility.
Mr Harvey, who co-founded and was the major shareholder of retailer Harvey Norman, declined to comment on his investment which was believed to be no less than $20 million in the first stage.
The major dairying interests of Coomboona Holsteins were owned by Alex Arena. In 2002 the business focused its operations on being one of Australia’s largest dairy farms. The farm included a 50-stand rotary platform milking up to 1600 cows a day.
Mr Harvey’s wealth was estimated by BRW Rich List at $1.79 billion. He already had interests in agriculture with beef cattle and more famously his extensive horse racing and breeding interests.
It was anticipated that that particular type of dairy operation would be second in size only to the Moxey family’s Moxey Farms dairy outside Forbes which the billionaire Perich family had been looking to buy in a joint venture with the Chengdu-based New Hope Group.

Source: Financial Review

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