Land prices hit €23,000 per acre but supply remains stagnant

The acreage of farmland for sale remains very small
The acreage of farmland for sale remains very small
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

A scarcity of land and strong prices have been the two standout trends in the farmland market for the first quarter of 2019.

But while the acreage of farmland for sale remains exceedingly low, the holdings being sold are making big prices with €23,000/ac paid last Friday for a 42ac holding in Co Limerick.

There is widespread agreement among auctioneers that land is scarce both for letting and sale. Cork auctioneer Dan Fleming says dominance of dairy is creating a serious imbalance in farming.

"The tillage, the drystock farmer and the sheep farmer are on their knees. Here in Cork there are about five serious tillage farmers left and they can't get land. Meanwhile, we are multiplying the dairy herd and seriously reducing our local capacity to feed that herd," he said.

Kilkenny auctioneer Joseph Coogan says he is inundated with calls from farmers looking to lease or buy land. The new leasing arrangements and the demand from dairy farmers has tied up huge quantities of land, he believes. "Even dairy farmers with 250ac are looking for more land. However, I also think Brexit is holding things up, both prospective vendors and buyers are waiting to see how it will work out before making a move," the Castlecomer-based agent said.

In the most recent auction a parcel of 42ac in Adare in Co Limerick sold under the hammer of Tom Crosse of GVM making €23,000/ac. In one of the earlier sales, €18,000/ac was paid for a 47ac holding with a derelict dwelling near Bandon in Co Cork.

In March Dungarvan auctioneer Pat Harty sold a 220ac farm near Kilmacthomas in Co Waterford for €2.6m or €11,800/ac, while Limerick auctioneer Tom Crosse saw €10,000/ac paid for a 33ac parcel of land in Galbally, Co Limerick. A local dairy farmer won the day.

In Wexford, the sales rooms have also been quiet, but reflecting what is happening nationwide five auctions disposed of 580ac of land for an average of €10,800/ac since the beginning of the year.

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