'Banks seem to be finding excuses to refuse farmers'
Auctioneers have warned that the land market could be left in limbo through 2010 unless the banks were willing to provide finance for farm purchases.
Land sales bucked the property trend over the past 12 months but auctioneers warned that the market remained extremely weak.
The average cost of farmland sold under the hammer during 2010 was €8,420/ac, which was just €380/ac off the 2009 figure.
The market was certainly helped by the recovery in farm incomes. Provisional figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed that farmer incomes had increased by 46pc compared to 2009. This was driven primarily by higher milk, cereals and sheep prices.
Even so, auctioneers pointed out that the land market had weakened through the second half of 2010 as the economic uncertainty deepened.
One of the major concerns voiced by estate agents was the absence of credit. Auctioneers maintained that tighter rules had resulted in farmers being refused loans for land pur- chases and this was strangling the market.
"Farmers just can't seem to satisfy the banks' needs. The banks seem to be finding every sort of an excuse to refuse loans," Roscommon auctioneer John Earley maintained.
This view was supported by Mullingar auctioneer Paul Murtagh. He said farmers were annoyed and frustrated by the attitude of the banks and their refusal to provide finance.