Agribusiness

Lavan's Agribusiness team provides specialist services that extend from advice on acquisitions and disposals to planning and environment, regulatory advice, contract and commercial law, banking and finance, regulatory advice and employment and migration.
Peter Beekink
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Agribusiness

Investing in agriculture in Western Australia is complex.  It is a process that is controlled by a range of local and national laws and regulatory bodies with ramifications that extend far beyond a decision to invest in land, livestock or farming assets.

Market deregulation, access to water, climate change, an increasingly challenging operating environment and foreign investment controls are just some of the challenges facing investors in agriculture in Western Australia. 

Lavan can help you manage these challenges.  We are a Western Australian law firm.  We understand the local farming sector.  We know the local and regional geography.  We know the laws and regulations that control business investment in Western Australia.  Our partners have long-term business relationships with key industry stakeholders which will enable us to proactively assist you with investment decisions, expediting the process and finding solutions which will deliver the best possible legal and commercial outcomes.

Our Services

Banking and Finance

Our Banking and Finance team assists financiers to the agribusiness sector in connection with the preparation of loan and security documentation including securities over crops and livestock.  The team has also acted for service providers to the sector including equipment suppliers and ag-chemical and fertiliser companies in relation to advising on Personal Property Securities Act issues.

Dispute Resolution

The Commercial Litigation team at Lavan has extensive experience in agribusiness disputes having acted for land owners, purchasers, vendors and producers in a wide variety of disputes.  We regularly provide arbitration, mediation and litigation services to the agribusiness sector.

Property

We act for buyers and sellers of agribusiness assets.  The transactions we have been involved with have required extensive due diligence enquiries on title, water rights, mining rights, planning approvals, storage facilities and FIRB issues.  Our team is very experienced in this area and is more than large enough to deliver this due diligence within tight timeframes.  Our access to the FIRB has been critical in resolving FIRB issues for our offshore clients.

In addition we have also advised our clients on the funding that has been provided to effect these acquisitions.  This funding includes both equity and debt finance (both onshore and offshore based).

Our team can also assist with acquisitions and disposals, land titling including leasehold conversions and easements, pastoral and occupancy leasing, share-farming arrangements and contracting out farm operations.

Planning and environment

We provide advice on all aspects of approvals required for agricultural concerns including planning approvals, heritage and native title issues, environmental approvals (including clearing permits), impact of competing mining interests and compulsory acquisitions, representation in courts and tribunals for the purposes of review proceedings related to planning and environment approvals and defending enforcement actions and criminal proceedings.

Water

Lavan can assist with issues relating to water rights, water access, water infrastructure and law reform and changing regulations in relation to water.

Corporate

We document partnership, trust and company and cooperative structures for property ownership, purchase or sale of primary production businesses and assets, export documentation and contracts, specific farm contracts like wind farm leases, tax and FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) applications, intellectual property and liquor licensing.

Employment

Lavan can assist with employment contracts, occupational health and safety and residency and migration related issues.

Our Experience

Nicoletti Farm transaction

Acted on the  purchase of the Nicoletti farm assets in Western Australia on behalf of a subsidiary of CK Life Group (listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange).  This was the purchase of wheat farming assets on a significant portion of Western Australia (comprising 87 seperate titles).  This transaction involved a complex due diligence covering titling, mining rights, access rights and water rights.  The FIRB process was particulary complex and involved significant discussions with FIRB. 

Moora Farm Sale

Acted on the sale of a Moora farm property to interests base in the Middle East.  This involved negotiation of the sale contract and compliance with the new Foreign Resident Witholding tax laws.

LandCorp: Ord River Expansion Project

Provided advice on all aspects of the strategically and politically important Ord River expansion project. 
This involved:

  • providing a paper on land development options to deliver this stage of the Ord River Expansion Project.
  • advice on the Ord River final agreement tax and duty advice.
  • advice on water access arrangements with the water service provider.  This included advice in relation to the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 (WA) and advice in respect of comments made, and conditions imposed, by the Department of Water.
  • advice in relation to Environmental Statement 830 and how the requirements of that statement can be met at this stage of the project.
  • advice on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
  • drafting disclosure information to comply with the strata titles legislation.
  • advising on the terms of the development leases to be made available to prospective operators of the farm lots.
  • advising on the risks associated with the ownership of land in this project.
  • assisting in discussions and negotiations with the native title holder (the MG Group).

This is a ground breaking project that uniquely utilises the strata titles legislation to provide survey strata farm lots as an efficient way to deliver the project and manage the complex environmental obligations applicable to this project.

LandCorp

Negotiating and putting in place negotiated settlements with native title claimants with respect to land releases and land access.

Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative

Assisted the cooperative in its expansion into Australia, this involved:

  • incorporating a subsidiary.
  • establishing a cooperative in Western Australia.
  • assisting in preparation of prospectuses.
  • preparation of Terms & Conditions of supply.
  • preparation of Credit Trading Terms and related security documents.

Assisting with registration and advice on the purchase money security interests.

Galati (Spud Shed)

Provided advice in relation to planning approvals required for the retail component of an agricultural concern.

Provided advice and legal representation in relation to matters involving the Potato Board.

Christian Brothers

Acted on the sale of a rural property at Tardun near Geraldton.

EG Green & Sons: Balmoral Station

Acted on the sale of the station and associated water entitlement agreements, stock and pastoral leases.

Carnegie Station

Acted for Westpac Banking Corporation with respect to the sale of the station.

Various wine producers

Assisted with the development of a number of wine producing enterprises in relation to selling and supplying their wines.

Land owner group in Margaret River

The instruction required:

  • representing a land owners’ group in the Margaret River region in successfully opposing a proposal to mine coal in a rural context.
  • extensive lobbying of planning and environment ministers in relation to land use constraints and ensuring protection of ground water resources for agricultural concerns in the vicinity.
  • conducting an appeal to the Office of the Appeals Convenor under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

Individual farm operators

Providing advice and representation in relation to prosecution proceedings and appeals to the Office of Appeals Convenor for the purposes of clearing native vegetation.

Advice in relation to defending prosecutions and securing approvals for the clearing of native vegetation for the purposes of farming.

Fini Olives

Acted on the due diligence and subsequent acquisition of Fini Olives by a foreign owned entity.

European consortium

Acted as the lead advisor for the proposed acquisition of one of the largest wheat producing entities in Australia.

Western Australian Railway Group

Assisted with grain haulage contracts in Western Australia.

Middle Eastern Consortium

Assisted with a Foreign Investment Review Board application for investment in agricultural livestock business.

Kailis Olives

Prepared asset sale agreements for the sale of land, plant, equipment and olive oil to Chinese investors.  Assisted the receivers in relation to:

  • implementation of agency agreements between the Kailis Group and Boundary Bend Olives for the sale of oil to Woolworths.
  • implementation of access and harvesting agreements with Boundary Bend in relation to the harvesting of olive crops and storage of oil.
  • liaising with water authorities and the Department of Water in relation to the transfer of water for the farms and preparation of the transfer documentation.
  • the assignment by the Conservation and Land Management Executive Body of a dam lease.
  • the assignment of trademarks and other goodwill to the purchasers.
  • prepared an agistment agreement with a neighbouring farm owner.

Country Housing Authority

Acting with respect to the financing it provides to the rural sector.

Palandri Wines

Assisted Deloitte with the liquidation of Palandri Wines.

Westpac receivers

Acting for the receivers in respect to the sale of a mixed use farm in Gingin.  This involved transferring water licences and entitlements and negotiation with farmers asserting profit a prendre rights.

nab receivers

Assisted receivers with the sale of the business and land assets of a cattle feedlot concern.

Farmworks Group of Companies

Acted for Ferrier Hodgson as administrators in the restructuring of the group, including drafting deeds of company arrangement and creditors trust deeds, asset and share sale agreements, to effect the sale of assets of the group to a Chinese owned purchaser.

Rabobank Australia

Advised in connection with the debt facilities made available to the Heytesbury group of companies, one of Australia’s largest cattle and rural land companies.

Australian Railroad Group

Advised in relation to its various rail freight transport agreements relating to grain, coal and ore, and in relation to various commercial disputes and matters as needed.

Confidential clients

Acted for the receivers on the sale of a farm which incorporated a trout farming facility.

Currently acting for a major bank in relation to enforcement and likely sale of a grain farm property in Mukinbudin.

Acted for a major bank and its receivers in relation to a grain farm in Pingrup, including attending a farm debt mediation with the borrower, and ultimate sale of the farm property.

Currently acting for a major bank in relation to a wheat, barley and canola concern in Geraldton and Katanning.

Acted for a major bank in recovering a sheep and wheat farm in York and Esperance that was ultimately sold by the bank’s receivers.

Acted for a major bank and its receivers in relation to the receivership and sale of a grain farming concern in south west Western Australia.

Acting for receivers appointed by a major bank to a grain farm in Ravensthorpe with a view to the sale of the farm.

Acted in litigation against the Government over the rent payable for leasing cattle stations in the Kimberley.  This involved valuations of the station’s land, improvements on the land and the cattle on the property.