Duxton Farms Limited is an Australian listed entity (ASX: DBF) that provides retail investors with exposure to a diversified portfolio of high-quality, efficient, farming operations across NSW, Victoria and more recently the Northern Territory.
Managed by a team of experienced farmers pursuing a strategy set by the Duxton Farm board and well informed by its investment manager Duxton Capital (Australia), they are constantly looking at farming best practice and ways they can optimise returns for their clients.
The company operates a variety of production systems across 165,067 hectares, producing a wide range of food, feed, and fibre products, including wheat, barley, canola, cotton, wool and livestock.
Wade Dabinett, one of the independent directors of Duxton Farms and chair of the Audit and Risk Committee, says Duxton Farms is proud to operate the only mixed farming enterprise listed on the ASX, noting that the space would be challenging for many companies.
He adds the company began with property investments in central western NSW, where it was able to buy at the bottom of the cycle and has seen huge growth in property value. However, the venture hasn’t been without its challenges.
“The investment manager started building the portfolio in 2009, before listing in February 2018 – right in the middle of a drought,” Wade says. "We had one normal season before the conditions reversed completely and we had to deal with flooding. Then we had Covid hit in 2020, but the unpredictable seasonal conditions that year also impacted us.”
Duxton Farms’ goal is to build and operate an economically diversified, environmentally sustainable enterprise that operates efficiently at scale. Its two most recent expansions have been the acquisition of Piambie Farms, a 1,185-hectare irrigated cropping aggregation in Victoria, for approximately $9 million, and a five-year lease of the 141,000-hectare Mountain Valley Station, 540 kilometres south-east of Darwin, where the company will leverage its cotton cropping expertise to trial rain-fed cotton in addition to livestock - predominantly cattle.
“We have been focused on developing what was a relatively concentrated broadacre farming operation, producing largely grains and oilseeds, into a larger, broader business with exposure to a variety of cropping systems, commodities, and geographies,” Wade says.
CommBank has been an important partner in the company’s development.
“There is typically some volatility in agricultural enterprises,” Wade says. “CommBank not only understands how agricultural businesses broadly work but has taken the time to understand Duxton Farms more specifically. CommBank has shown a remarkable level of consistency, flexibility, and responsiveness in extending support to the business and its strategic direction.”
This is as true for the company’s run-of-the-mill working capital requirements, following the disruptive 2022 NSW floods, and for its more recent sizable strategic initiatives, including the company’s expansion and diversification into Victoria and the Northern Territory.”
Dr Amanda Rischbieth AM is also an independent director of Duxton Farms. She established and chairs the ESG Subcommittee that brings sustainability matters forward for both Audit and Risk, and Board discussion and decision. This has included guidance on a Sustainability Action Plan as a roadmap and focus on key areas for Duxton Farms over the next 12-24 months, and also its considerations on best practice reporting alignment against relevant international sustainability standards.
She notes that investing in agriculture requires patience and resolve over a long investment horizon, as the level of production is often determined largely by seasonal conditions, and which is why sustainability practices are a consideration in parallel.
“We actively manage these risks through strategic water leasing and purchasing, a robust crop hedging and marketing programme, and by sticking to our long-term strategic vision. Success in this business ultimately comes down to the relationships that we are able to build and the skills and experience within our team and our stakeholders,” says Amanda.
“We are fortunate in that our investment manager, operations team, board and major investors as well as our banking partner in CommBank, are aligned with this view and are actively managing Duxton Farms to create genuine long-term value for all stakeholders through the construction of a high-quality business,” Amanda says.
To find out more about how our team of corporate agribusiness banking specialists can support your business, visit commbank.com.au/agri