Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Farmers show eagerness to re-enter buying market

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Close to 40pc of farmers plan to buy land over the next three years as they look to take advantage of the recent drop in prices.

A major survey carried out by the Farming Independent at the National Ploughing Championships showed that land purchases were back on the agenda for many farmers.

Thirty-nine percent of the 1,008 farmers surveyed said they would consider buying land over the next three years. However, 49pc of those questioned said they would not. A further 12pc were undecided.

Agricultural land prices have more than halved since 2007 and the greater levels of interest expressed by farmers in extending their holdings must be viewed in this context.

The sale price of farmland has fallen under €10,000/ac in most areas, with the majority of properties selling for €6,500-8,500/ac.

Dairy farmers are among those most likely to buy land. In all, 46pc of the 322 dairy farmers who took part in the survey said they would consider buying additional ground.

This is hardly surprising given the stated Food Harvest 2020 target of expanding total milk production by 50pc during the next decade.

Indeed, the land purchase returns tie in with the survey findings that 60pc of the dairy farmers sampled planned to grow milk production next year.

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For many of these farmers, securing a bigger milking platform will necessitate land purchases, particularly where rental ground is not available.

The lift in cereal prices this harvest was not reflected in a desire to buy land. Just 28pc of grain growers said they would consider buying agricultural ground over the next few years, while 60pc said they would not and 12pc were undecided.

Thirty-eight percent of the 424 drystock farmers expressed an interest in buying land, but half of the sample said they would not. The remaining 12pc were undecided.

Farmers working more than 200ac also indicated that they intended to expand their holdings, with 49pc saying they were likely to enter the market. However, this figure fell to 38pc for farmers with 100-200ac, and 37pc for those with under 100ac.

Irish Independent