A HIGHER than average number of Warrnambool district dairy farms have sold and been converted to mixed grazing and cropping interests, real estate agents say.
But they say the future is now looking brighter with a hike in this season's milk prices and strong rainfall increasing enquiries from dairy farmers.
Charles Stewart Real Estate Warrnambool branch director Nick Adamson said 16 dairy farms from Heywood to Terang sold last financial year, 13 to non-dairy buyers.
Mr Adamson said he had never seen the price of dairy farms and grazing properties become so closely aligned, and said most sales were due to declining profits or retirement.
"Grazing properties have gone up due to strong commodities, they have risen by up to 30 per cent over a three or four year period, and dairy farms have come back 25 per cent," he said. But Mr Adamson said the last three properties sold continued dairying.
Elders rural property consultant Tom Luxton said the Warrnambool agency sold about 11 dairy farms last financial year, four to croppers or graziers, a relatively high number for the branch.
"We have seen more dairy enquiries in the last few months, the better quality properties are in demand now to be retained as dairy farms," Mr Luxton said.
"Twelve months ago enquiry wasn't as strong because of a combination in the low milk price, the cost of grain and hay and potentially some seasonal conditions."
Mr Adamson said 60 per cent of the dairy farms Charles Stewart sold were to local buyers wanting to expand their grazing holding, while the remainder of buyers were from drought-affected northern Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria representative and Koroit farmer Oonagh Kilpatrick said while some sales had been due to pessimism, confidence was now up.
"Our members are fairly confident. The milk price is very good," Ms Kilpatrick said.
"Some farmers have decided to retire. The benefit has been in recent months that croppers and graziers have wanted to drought proof their businesses so they have come into the region."
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