The land rental market is on fire this year, with leasing costs up 5-15% on 2021 due to intense farmer competition.
Demand for new land to the market is particularly buoyant, with prices in excess of €400/ac being quoted for some holdings in the south and southeast.
However, good grazing ground is generally making between €220/ac and €270/ac, which is €20-30/ac dearer than last year.
The restricted supply of available land for rent or lease, combined with high commodity prices over the past 12 months, are cited by auctioneers as the main drivers of the market.
The Nitrates Action Plan is also having an impact, with dairy farmers looking to take additional land rather than reduce cow numbers.
Also, auctioneers report more young farmers competing for ground for entitlements. The hike in fertiliser prices is another contributory factor.
Faced with a choice of buying expensive nitrogen or renting more ground, auctioneers said many farmers were taking the latter option.
The letting market is particularly buoyant in the southeast, with lively competition between dairy and tillage farmers pushing prices to record levels.
David Quinn, based in Carnew and Gorey, said the market for good ground was particularly strong in Wexford.
We have crossed the €400/ac barrier
He maintained that good land is making €300/ac to €400/ac in the county, with more being paid in exceptional cases.
“We have crossed the €400/ac barrier,” Quinn admitted.
He said the highest price achieved so far this year was €400/ac, with the entitlements returned. Quinn also got €370/ac for “clean land”.
Dairy farmers and those involved in vegetables and spuds were paying the top money, Quinn explained. Ground for cereals only was making from €250-320/ac.
All renegotiated long-term leases were being reviewed upwards by at least €50/ac, he added.
The phone is hopping. I’m getting at least 10 calls a day from farmers looking for lan
In contrast, Quinn maintained that the market was not as strong in Wicklow, with grazing ground generally making a top of €250/ac, and drifting back to €150-180/ac for poorer-quality ground.
Castlecomer auctioneer Joe Coogan said the market was equally strong in Kilkenny and Laois.
“The phone is hopping. I’m getting at least 10 calls a day from farmers looking for land,” he said.
“If I had 1,000 acres in nice-sized blocks this minute, I’d be able to lease the lot of it,” Coogan insisted.
He said most of his customers were looking for 30-40ac, with everyone seeking long-term leases of between five and 10 years.
Coogan pointed out that he leased two holdings recently that made €400/ac and €490/ac. He attributed the high prices to a combination of nitrates and strong milk and cattle prices.
Rental prices in north Munster have increased by 5-10%, Tom Crosse of GVM estimated.
“This is on top of last year’s increases, when prices jumped 20-25%,” he added.
Lads are not holding back
The GVM auctioneer said grazing ground was averaging €250/ac but that €350-400/ac had been paid in places.
Crosse said there was a lot more bite in the market this year, with farmers more inclined to compete for properties.
“Lads are not holding back; if there’s any uncertainty or messing they are looking to take advantage,” he maintained.
Grazing ground in west Cork ranged in price from €200/ac to €325/ac, according to Clonakilty auctioneer John Hodnett.
Spud ground in the area was generally making €400-500/ac.
Midlands and west
The drift towards long-term leases has also been seen in the midlands and the west.
Trim auctioneer Thomas Potterton said land for spring crops ranged from €180/ac to €225/ac.
New ground for spuds was making €600-700/ac, with stubble ground getting up to €400/ac. Grazing ground is making €180-230/ac.
Roscommon auctioneer John Earley said most farmers were looking to tie up land for five to six years.
He maintained that local prices had increased by 10-20%, with prices for good clean land ranging from €250-300/ac. The cost of holdings which needed work drifted back to €200/ac.
Lease prices are generally up €20-30/ac in Donegal.
Grazing ground is making from €180/ac to €250/ac, but good holdings have made up to €330/ac in long-term leases where there are built-in increases.