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Big farmers competing for ownership of marginal land holdings to secure access to lucrative EU subsidies

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On the market: this 557ac hill farm  at Barnderg, Drummin between Westport and Leenane comes with  entitlements of €24,170 and is guided by Olivia Needham at €695,000. A group of local farmers and a Cork farmer are currently the highest bidders.

On the market: this 557ac hill farm at Barnderg, Drummin between Westport and Leenane comes with entitlements of €24,170 and is guided by Olivia Needham at €695,000. A group of local farmers and a Cork farmer are currently the highest bidders.

On the market: this 557ac hill farm at Barnderg, Drummin between Westport and Leenane comes with entitlements of €24,170 and is guided by Olivia Needham at €695,000. A group of local farmers and a Cork farmer are currently the highest bidders.

A booming trade for marginal land has seen large tracts of ground in the west being purchased by commercial farmers from the midlands, south and east.

The trade is being driven by the potential for substantial returns from programmes such as the Young Framers' Scheme and ANC, as well as the possibility of insulating farmers' Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements from convergence.

Buoyant demand for marginal land, which is generally not suitable for planting, has resulted in a steady increase in sale prices, with the bulk of the ground currently moving for €700-800/ac.