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Rental price of conacre holds firm

Fears of a widespread land grab ahead of the proposed 2014 reference year look to have abated as grazing and tillage conacre prices remain close to last year's levels.

Small increases of up to €5-10/ac are being reported across the country, but this is mainly due to a scarcity of new land on the market.

With more land tied up in long-term leases, demand for new parcels is said to be strong.

Fermoy-based auctioneer Michael Barry said grazing land with maps was making €170-180/ac in north Cork, with strong demand from both dairy and beef farmers.

"Any reasonable tillage farm is making €200/ac and better farms are making in excess of €200/ac," he said. "Prices for both grazing and tillage land are certainly as strong as last year, if not a bit more."

Limerick auctioneer Tom Crosse said that while existing lettings were being renewed at €130-150/ac on average, there was extremely keen interest in any new parcels of land.

"Anything new is flying out at €160-170/ac," he said.

Mr Crosse has agreed lettings for up to 2,000ac of land so far for this year.

Carlow auctioneer John Dawson said grassland was averaging €170-220/ac in the east of the country.

A 100ac grassland farm in west Wicklow made €210-260/ac in six lots last week, but the land was described as ideal, well-fenced, limed and reseeded.

Tillage conacre was making €170-200/ac, he added.

There was also huge demand for rented land, as there was a large amount tied up in long-term leases. "Ten years ago, there was no land in long-term leasing but, today, it accounts for 50pc of the land I deal with," he said.

Enniscorthy agent Robert Rackard said both tillage and grassland parcels were making €150-170/ac on average, but new grassland prices were making up to €200/ac.

Stradbally-based auctioneer John Hennessy said grazing land was making €130-150/ac in the Laois, Kildare and Offaly region, which was in line with last year's prices.

"There are some exceptional prices being paid for land with maps and entitlements," he added.

Tillage conacre prices in the area are at €150-160/ac for cereal ground, with up to €200/ac for beet ground and up to €300/ac for potatoes and carrots.

Meanwhile, Padraig Smith said prices in the Cavan/Monaghan region were expected to rise by €5-10/ac above last year's levels. The average price paid for grazing land last year was €150-160/ac, with a top price of €200/ac and lower prices for poorer quality land.

Soil quality and crop yields are an important factor in negotiations, with farmers and landowners agreeing deals that include liming, soil testing, fertiliser and output targets.

Roscommon auctioneer John Earley said grazing land was making €120-150/ac on average, while new parcels were making up to €150/ac. He added that although it was early in the season, indications were that prices for grazing land would rise by €5-10/ac this year.

IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns warned farmers to be careful what they paid.

"Things have improved in farming but inputs are also on the increase," he said.

Indo Farming