Farmers paid an average of €10,191/ac for agricultural land last year, according to a Farming Independent survey of published land sales.
The average was 2pc higher than the €10,024/ac recorded in 2011 and shows that the land market remained surprisingly resilient last year despite the atrocious weather, lower commodity prices and the consequent fall in farmer incomes.
The survey was based on the results of public auction sales in 2012 that were published in either the Farming Independent or other farming press. A total of 8,557ac changed hands in the 195 sales recorded last year, with the overall value of the transactions coming to €87m.
Farmers continued to be the main purchasers of farms through 2012, with the vast majority of holdings being bought by those looking to increase the size of their holdings and the scale of their farming operations.
Good land averaged between €10,000 and €12,000/ac, with marginal land selling between €5,500 and €8,000/ac.
The continuing credit squeeze meant the best of the trade in 2012 was for parcels of 20ac to 50ac, with larger farms taking longer to sell.
However, a number of larger holdings were purchased by farmers during the year, particularly in the midlands and southeast, and auctioneers report increased interest in big blocks of land.
Auctioneers also reported a preference for good quality land that was ready and fit to be farmed. They said holdings that were in need of drainage or reclamation were harder to sell.
This is the third year in succession that agricultural land prices have strengthened, although the pace of the increase this year was far slower than 2011 when prices grew by a massive 20pc.
FULL REPORT ON PAGE 2