Land prices strengthened by almost 20pc over the past year on the back of improved farm incomes and continuing fears over the future of the euro.
The annual Farming Independent land price survey found that the average price paid for farmland in 2011 was €10,024/ac. This was up almost €1,600/ac on the figure for 2010, which stood at €8,420/ac.
The recovery meant that agricultural land prices bounced back close to the 2008 levels of €10,500/ac. Auctioneers attributed the lift to improved fortunes in farming over the past 12 months. The ongoing uncertainty regarding the future of the euro also played a role.
The general view was that farmers with money in the bank had become increasingly nervous through the year and were keen to convert their cash into assets, and land was viewed as a relatively safe haven.
The price survey was based on land sold at auction over the last year and sales reported in the farming press.
The best of the land prices were paid along the east coast region. A number of farms came onto the market in north Co Dublin. However, there was no development value attached to them and the average price paid was €14,836/ac.
Kildare came next in the price stakes, with an average of €12,647/ac.
Staying in the eastern belt, the average price paid in Meath was €10,309/ac, while in Wicklow it was €10,250/ac.
In Carlow/Kilkenny an average of €11,258/ac was paid, while in Wexford the figure was €10,326/ac.
Prices were slightly easier in the midlands, with €9,572/ac paid in Laois/Offaly and €8,695/ac in Longford/ Westmeath.
The survey results for the northeast highlighted the varied and contrasting nature of the land market. While the average paid in Louth/Monaghan was €11,292/ac, farmland in Cavan made an average of €7,387/ac.
An average of €6,781/ac was paid in the northwest region of Donegal/Sligo/Leitrim, while €6,169/ac was recorded for Mayo/Roscommon. However, there was a big difference in the price paid for good grazing ground and forestry land, and sales of the latter pulled down the average in both areas.
Staying in the west, the average price paid for farmland in Clare/Galway was €8,240/ac, while the figure for Tipperary/Waterford was €9,542/ac.
An average of €10,514/ac was paid for agricultural land in the southwest region, including the counties of Cork, Limerick and Kerry.