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Irish agricultural land and farming -- the facts

Less than 0.5pc of all agricultural land in Ireland comes on the open market every year.

An Irish field is sold, on average, only once in 400 years, compared to France, where the average field is sold every 70 years.

It is estimated that one in six farms sold on the open market is as a result of a relationship breaking down.

The average price paid for agricultural land last year was €10,024 per acre, according to a survey by the Farming Independent.

Prices paid for agriculturally zoned land peaked in 2006 at almost €28,000/ac, coinciding with the Celtic Tiger boom and a seemingly insatiable appetite for land among developers.

€17.2m is the biggest sum paid for any farm at auction in Ireland. Pass House and Farm, a 275ac property located at Cullenagh, Portlaoise, broke all the records when it exceeded its pre-auction guide price by more than €12m.

The buyer was a property developer who bought the farm to entice farmers sitting on development land on the edge of Portlaoise to swap.

The average size of a farm in Ireland is 81 acres, according to the agricultural research body Teagasc.

By comparison, the average farm size in New Zealand is almost 500 acres. In fact, the Kiwis refer to farms of Ireland's average size as "lifestyle blocks" instead of farms.

The long-term trend in Irish farming is that the number of farm enterprises is in continuous decline, while the average size of each farm enterprise is on the increase. Between 1991 and 2007, the number of farm enterprises fell by 25pc, while the average farm size increased by 25pc.

Irish Independent