Monday, January 25, 2016

Farmland prices fall

The cost of prime arable land fell last year for the first time in 13 years, according to estate agents Savills. It is estimated that prices fell 1.7 per cent last year, after rising 12 per cent in 2014.

The main reasons for the fall are thought to be falling commodity prices and uncertainty about what would happen to farm subsidies if the UK left the EU. Farm subsidies have tended to push up prices.

The 25 per cent fall in wheat prices last year had a particular impact on demand, especially from farmers looking to expand. Farmers with high debts or no successors may have cashed in last year while prices remained high. Farmers accounted for 50 per cent of farmland sales last year, the highest proportion for seven years.

Arable land values in the eastern counties of England, where prices have been the highest, fell most compared to other types of land. They remained stable in Scotland and the north of England.

Savills said that the fundamental factors driving UK farmland value growth remained: 'Supply is historically low, the product is finite, competing land uses and ownership motives will all support farmland values growth in the long run.'

High land prices remain a significant barrier for new entrants to farming who do not inherit a farm.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Brexit could hit farmland prices

It is unlikely that the current level of €3bn a year direct support would be maintained after Brexit. The Treasury would see it as an opportunity to reduce subsidies to farmers.

The value of prime agricultural land would be unlikely to be affected. High quality land has been selling at £1,000 per acre with investors looking to diversify assets and preserve capital values. The price of the best land in East Anglia and the south east has risen fourfold over the last decade.

However, the value of land used for dairy farming, lowland beef and sheep farms could be hit much harder. Ian Ashridge, a partner specialising in agriculture at Bidwells, told the Financial Times, 'You would seem some sectors affected severely. Those investors who have acquired land that supports more than one enterprise are likely to be affected much more seriously by any reduction in support.'

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Brexit and agricultural trade

Alan Matthews takes an in depth look at the implications of 'Brexit' for agricultural trade: WTO and Brexit

Certainly in the work we have been doing in the Yorkshire Agricultural Society working party on Brexit, we have found this to be the most complex issue.

Matthews concludes: 'There must be a high risk that Brexit would lead to disruption to supply chains (in the case of imports) and to export sales. Also, the time pressure on the UK to secure agreements will leave it in a relatively weak bargaining position vis-à-vis its trade partners implying that it may have yield more concessions that might otherwise be the case in order to secure these agreements.'