Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Tillage men on collision course with landowners over rent costs

Declan O'Brien

Published 09/11/2016 | 06:00

While auctioneers admitted that price reductions of up to 10pc have been secured, farmers and farm consultants maintained that more significant reductions were needed.
While auctioneers admitted that price reductions of up to 10pc have been secured, farmers and farm consultants maintained that more significant reductions were needed.

Tillage farmers and land owners are at loggerheads over the cost of rented land in many areas of the country, with differences of up to €100/ac reported between the parties in some instances.

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While auctioneers admitted that price reductions of up to 10pc have been secured, farmers and farm consultants maintained that more significant reductions were needed.

There has been a sustained effort on the part of cereal growers to secure a sizeable reduction in the cost of rented land due to the collapse in grower margins this year.

In some parts of the country, farmers are looking to get rental prices down to €150/ac. However, auctioneers said these efforts were being resisted by land owners. They pointed out that the recovery in dairy farmer margins had also increased competition for available ground.

Matthew Conry of Dawson Auctioneers in Tullow, Co Carlow said that there had been a limited amount of activity for winter ground.

He said prices for prime pieces of ground had come back from last year's high of €300-plus, but up to €250/ac was still being paid by growers.

Kilkenny-based auctioneer Godfrey Greene said that many of the leases he had extended had involved a reduction in price of 5-10pc.

Greene said the bulk of the tillage ground in the south-eastern county was being leased by existing tenants and making €165-185/ac.

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A noticeable feature of the market this autumn had been the absence of grazing ground "being broken" for cereals, the Kilkenny agent pointed out.

"Some properties have even gone back into grass," he said.

Farmers in the northeast claimed that strong demand for land from new entrants was helping maintain high letting prices.

One Louth farmer said €200-250/ac was still being paid in the county for tillage ground because so few holdings were coming on the market.

In east Cork land is generally making €160-180/ac, but up to €230/ac has been paid in exceptional cases.

"Farmers are afraid that if they let land go, they'll never get it back," a local explained.

However, one Munster-based farm consultant, who asked not to be named, claimed that a number of farmers had defaulted on rental payments this year.

He said auctioneers had gotten involved to broker settlements between tenants and landowners.

"It's hard to enforce payment on men who've got no money," the consultant said.

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