Paying big money per acre to lease land is not sustainable, according to Austin Finn of the Land Mobility Service.

He was speaking at a Land Mobility and Aurivo Co-Op farm walk at Ramelton in Co Donegal on Wednesday.

Forty-five per cent of all arrangements processed by the Land Mobility Service is for land leasing. According to Austin, the price paid per acre needs to be realistic.

“The price to be fair and workable. The person leasing the farm must be able to make a good return from it. Otherwise problems will develop down the line. The farm owner also needs to get a return on the investments they’ve made. We generally talk in bands and a farm like this is in the €180/acre to €250/acre category.

“We hear of land going for much bigger money, particularly down south but that’s not sustainable. Paying €400 to €500/acre is simply not sustainable for the person leasing the land. Probably the biggest piece of work we have now is educating landowners on why that will not work out long-term.”

The herd of Fleckvieh/MRI cows enjoying the views of the Donegal countryside

Attendees at the farm walk heard from Anne and Billy McMahon, who decided to lease their farm to Chris Digimas in spring 2020, after many years of planning.

“We didn’t arrive at the decision to lease out the farm overnight. We spent a few years thinking about it and planning it. You really need to think more about what you’re going to do, not what the person leasing the farm is going to do," said Billy.

Chris Digimas has been leasing the farm off the McMahons since February 2020

“Anne and myself worked hard as a team and we took the decision to retire as a team. Our children aren’t interested in farming and we’re very much at peace with that. They are more passionate about their jobs and careers than I was ever about farming,” he says.

Read more in next week's Irish Farmers Journal