7 June 1996

Arable area takes top spot in rent rise table

ARABLE farms have set the pace in establishing higher rents, according to latest figures for Lady Day reviews by agents, Strutt and Parker.

Following a season of good yields, high prices and increased area aid, arable rents have increased by 30% to average £65/acre. Dairy rents are still top of the pile at £74/acre, but the rise was a more modest 20%.

For all 74 farms in the sample (covering almost 13,000 acres), average rents came to £59/acre. This was 24% up on the same time last year, continuing the 18% increase seen last Lady Day.

There was a particularly strong rise on lower grades of land this year, observes partner Leo Hickish. Grade 3 and 4 land saw a 37% increase, though this was mainly a "catching up" exercise on some of the samples livestock farms.

With regard to the current BSE crisis, Mr Hickish said the jury was still out. The immediate impact had been to boost this springs grass lets by as much as 40%. But that was a short-term impact of demand outstripping supply. Looking ahead to this autumns reviews, it remained to be seen where the fall-out would land.

Some believed arable farms could benefit from changing consumer demands for white meat iso boosting grain usage. And, while the outlook for cattle farmers was not bright, livestock rents, at £47/acre, are already well behind other sectors of the industry.