News

Floods, drought force Darling Downs grain giant to fold

ICONIC Darling Downs farmer Rowell Walton is broke, with $30 million of debt driving him from the land he has worked for 31 years.

After a meeting with ANZ bank on April 11, Mr Walton was told he and his wife Debbie had 30 days to leave their family home at Yulabilla station, allowing receivers KordaMentha to take over his grain-growing operation.

His two sons, Gavin and Robert, will also need to be off the land by the end of May, after 14 years working with their father.

Mr Walton's stations - Yullabilla, Undulla, Mt Pleasant and Wyola - will all be forcibly sold in the next six months.

"As a family, it's an extraordinarily difficult thing to have to deal with," Mr Walton said.

"But there are many more (foreclosures) on the way.

"It will be something akin to a tsunami once it gets rolling."

About 10 years ago, Mr Walton was one of many local farmers to take a chance on the large loans which sucked many businesses into the Global Financial Crisis, hoping to expand his business and repay the debt around 2010.

Gavin, Rowell and Robert Walton are facing hard times following ANZ's decision to put the property into receivership.
Gavin, Rowell and Robert Walton are facing hard times following ANZ's decision to put the property into receivership. Alasdair Young

When the floods hit that year, followed by drought, he started falling behind on his repayments, compounding debt.

Though the land is greening today, it is too little too late for Mr Walton to make good on his debts.

As chairman of the national Rural Debt Roundtable, former Queensland National Party vice-president and one of the largest grain farmers in Queensland, Mr Walton lobbied passionately for a government solution to Australia's $66 billion farming debt crisis.

AgAssist consultant Rod Saal has more than 40 years experience working with farmers across south-west Queensland, and said many local farms were carrying millions of dollars in debt.

Mr Saal believed heavily indebted Condamine farmers could be at risk if their equity dropped as a result of the sale of the Waltons' holdings.

He explained that once banks began making concessions, it was standard practice to sharply raise the interest rate on debt, accelerating the debt spiral until a forced sale of the business was inevitable.

"It's a terrible thing to do to a family," he said.

"The trouble is, you need capital to keep your farming equipment up to date. This means if you miss a crop you're in real strife."

Topics:  condamine darling downs debt farming grain


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Suncorp Miles retail branch to close this afternoon

Suncorp Bank is closing four retail branches today.

Four retail branches to close around the Maranoa from today

Good cop, bye cop: Sgt Wiltshire calls it a day with Miles

Miles Police officer-in-charge Sergeant Ben Wiltshire is moving on after more than six years.

In a period of change, Sgt Ben Wiltshire has witnessed a lot.

Daylight saving: 'Draw a line from Goondiwindi to Rocky'

Sunset in maryborough, Queensland. - User Contributed

Just draw a line from Goondiwindi to Rockhampton

Local Partners

Man undergoes surgery for gunshot wound in leg

POLICE are investigating after a Western Downs man called paramedics with reports he had suffered a gunshot wound to his leg.

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

The surprising problem police face at Woodford Folk Festival

STREET SCENE: Woodford Folk Festival 2016.

The biggest issue for police at Woodfordia is not what you'd expect

Lion roars to straight to No 1 at Aussie box office

Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and Sunny Pawar in a scene from the movie Lion.

THE Australian-made movie a hit, while Rogue One nears record mark.

Ozzy Osbourne fell asleep during his driving test

Not a good idea to give Ozzy a Ferrari

Kristen Stewart to host SNL

Kristen Stewart will host a pre-Super Bowl episode of SNL next month

Louis Tomlinson celebrated his son's first birthday

Louis Tomlinson and Briana Jungwirth celebrate son's first birthday

Kylie Minogue will take husband's name

Kylie Minogue will take her fiancé Joshua Sasse's surname

Nicole reveals her biggest parenting challenges

Actress Nicole Kidman.

Nicole Kidman says her kids are ‘deeply attuned' to her moods.

Why investors are flocking to Moranbah

Moranbah homes are selling like hotcakes, creating a supply problem

Investors are scrambling to get into the market

Stockland's $150m pitch: Build it and they will come

Gladstone Marina. The Gladstone Regional Council offers a range of exciting job opportunities. Photo Contributed: Murray Ware.

Here's why we need to see Stockland upgrade start soon.

By the water's edge

Secure your seachange

HOT PROPERTY: Money to spend on land, buildings

File picture.

Sale, leasing of industrial real estate picks up in Mackay

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!