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Grazing land hits €200/ac

A shortage of land for letting and the scramble for fodder is driving the cost of grazing ground through the roof.

Prices of up to €200/ac are being reported from right around the country as farmers battle for ground to graze or to take for silage or hay.

Cork auctioneer Mick Barry recorded a price of €200/ac recently for ground for one cut of silage.

In Meath and Westmeath, local auctioneers Paul Murtagh and Thomas Potterton said €200/ac for grazing ground was now freely available.

Throughout the country, prices for grazing are higher than most people can remember and there is general agreement that meadowing, traditionally the poor relation in the land market, is set to break records.

Wexford-based auctioneer David Quinn said he had farmers looking to take 50ac to 100ac for silage having been forced to graze their own crop.

Further west, Tom Crosse of GVM, Limerick has seen prices of €130 to €200/ac for grazing. He said €130/ac to €140/ac will be paid for meadowing, with even higher prices for fertilised land.

Kilkenny auctioneer Joseph Coogan said he had never seen prices as high and land as scarce.

"Good grazing land with water and road frontage could make up to €300/ac," he predicted.

While the west has been hit by the fodder crisis, Swinford-based farm consultant Breian Carroll said it had not been as badly affected as other parts of the country.

"We are more accustomed to the long winter and there has been a huge amount of neighbourly assistance," he said.

Mr Carroll said farmers were very apprehensive about the immediate future, especially in the event of another bad summer and bad autumn.

Paul Murtagh said he had seen a similar trend in the midlands.

"Guys are fed up paying big prices for feed, fuel and fertiliser. Across the board they are all talking about cutting back saying that intensification is not paying," Mr Murtagh said.

John Earley of Roscommon urged people to take a longer view on the fodder situation. "People are panicking too soon," he said. "An older farmer I know tells me he hasn't seen anything like this since 1937 when there was no growth until June, but there were two late growth spurts that year and the grass was growing over the walls in September."

Irish Independent