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Strong demand maintains prices for grazing conacre

Strong demand from both the drystock and dairy sectors looks set to keep a floor under grazing prices for this year.

Auctioneers have reported big regional variations in grazing price, from €100-200/ac depending on location, but all insist last year's prices will be maintained or improved.

Strong demand from both sheep and cattle men is a feature of the market in Westmeath, where prices ranged from €130-170/ac for grazing, depending on the size and quality of the parcel.

"The average last year was around €150/ac for good grazing," said Paul Murtagh from Murtagh Bros Real Estate Alliance.

"This year it will definitely be that or more," he maintained.

"Landowners see letting as as good a way of getting money as anything," he added.

"If you get a good client, you're pretty sure of getting your money and you have very little to do for it."

Mr Murtagh added that there was keen interest from sheep farmers in well-fenced grazing plots, while some sheep men were also willing to fence land themselves if they could secure the property for two to three years.

In Limerick, repeat lettings are mainly being closed at the same price as last year, generally €120-150/ac depending on land quality.

However, GVM auctioneer Tom Crosse said new parcels of land were breaking through the €150/ac barrier.

"There have been stronger prices for new plots, up to €200/ac," he said.

John Stokes, from Stokes & Quirke auctioneers in Tipperary, said grazing prices were up 10-15pc on last year.

"Demand from dairy men is strong but the beef men are standing on well," he said.

He quoted a price range of €125-160/ac, depending on the quality and size of land parcels.

Sligo auctioneer Roger McCarrick handles several hundred acres of grass lettings each year, with the majority rolled over from year to year.

"Prices are generally €100-130/ac, maybe a small increase on last year," he said.

"But there is a strong demand for new land and nobody is giving up land this year."

In Co Kilkenny, auctioneer David Fitzgerald maintained there was good demand for ground, with more liquidity in farming than in previous years. He recently closed a letting deal for 44ac at €155/ac.

Cavan-based agent Padraig Smith said he was expecting lettings to average out at similar prices to last year, although it was too early to say for sure.

"We got €170-180/ac for new lettings, drifting back down to €100-120/ac for parcels that have been let for 10-12 years," he said.

"We have good demand from beef and dairy men this year, as well as a few sheep men from Leitrim making enquiries."

Carlow grazing is set to make a similar price to last year, at €150-200/ac, according to local auctioneer John Dawson.

Indo Farming