Sunday, January 23, 2011

Buoyant market for SFP entitlements

The market for SFP entitlements appears to be buoyant. Buyers far outnumber sellers which naturally tends to push up prices. George Paton of WebbPaton told Farmers Weekly that they had a requirement for 2400ha on their waiting list.

The confiscation of entitlements under tighter usage rules has had the effect of reducing the number of 'spare' entitlements. There are also more buyers about, some of them finally getting round to buying entitlements for land that missed out on the original allocation in 2005.

English flat-rate entitlements of €241/ha are currently worth around £205/ha, which is close to the level they can be expected to pay out in 2011, assuming exchange rates remain similar to current levels (when the pound fell against the euro it pushed up the value of payments received by farmers in sterling.) Entitlements for Severely Disadvantaged Areas and Moorland Areas are once again in particularly short supply and are fetching up to twice their annual face value.

Ideally one would not pay general subsidies of this kind to farmers at all. However, if one does have them, there is an argument for having a secondary market to re-allocate them more efficiently to those who think they need them most.

In a sense those who buy and sell in this market are taking a bet on the sterling/euro exchange rate. Of course, this not only affects the sterling value of the SFP, but also key input prices which have been rising substantially recently. 'Red' diesel for use on farms is taxed at a lower rate than diesel bought for normal domestic or business use, but its price has been pushed up substantially recently by rising world oil prices.

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