Small farmers being forced out of commuter belt land market

Stock photo
Stock photo

Jim O' Brien

Small farmers are being forced out of the land market in Leinster’s commuter counties, and the banks are still reluctant to lend to non-dairy farmers, auctioneers claim.

Maynooth auctioneer Eamon O’Flaherty told the Farming Independent that while commercial farmers are buying the larger holdings, the ordinary farmer is gone from the small farm market in the Greater Dublin area.

“Parcels of 20 to 50ac are rarely being bought by farmers in the commuter belt counties,” he said.

“These are being snapped up by people looking for small residential hobby farms or small equestrian units.

“The neighbouring farmer or the young farmer is gone out of this market.”

This viewed is echoed by Andrew Nolan of Goffs Country, who said: “We are finding that the bigger farms are being bought by people engaged in farming at a serious level.


“However, I believe the changes in stamp duty introduced last year are continuing to have a negative effect on the market. Also, I think the banks are slow to lend to farmers of all kinds.”

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Meanwhile, sales and prices remain strong in all regions.

Roscommon auctioneer John Earley has seen a late surge in sales.

“We got 10 parcels of land over the line in October, with two larger farms of 150ac and 168ac selling under the hammer last week. The latter made €1.8m or over €10,700/ac,” he said.

Mr Earley said the primary interest in these farms came from Munster-based commercial dairy farmers.

Fermoy auctioneer Mick Barry said there is little evidence of the banks loosening the purse strings for tillage and beef farmers on land purchases.

“The capacity to repay is the big thing and before you buy land you need to hire an accountant to prove your capacity to pay. It is very difficult at the moment,” he said.

“Tillage and beef farmers haven’t a hope with the banks as it is next to impossible for them to prove that they have a steady capacity to repay.”

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