By FWi staff

GRASS lets are expected to maintain last years levels in Scotland.

Talk among farmers that ground will be cheaper is denied by auctioneers, who expect the need for extra land for extensification subsidies to ensure a buoyant market.

There could also be less grass on the market, which would also help firm prices. “I cant see prices rising on last year, but the need to maximise subsidy returns will guarantee a demand,” says Lanark auctioneer Brian Ross.

The 2000 acres let last year by Mr Ross ranged from £15/acre for hill land to £120/acre for the best low ground parks at an average of £80/acre.

“We will also have less to let this year with land having gone to trees,” said Mr Ross.

In the Borders, Frank Forrest of John Swan & Sons will probably let about 3000 acres and expects prices to be similar to last year when they averaged £79/acre, which was down 20% on 1997.

At Castle Douglas, Robin Anderson also forecasts similar rates to last year at about £75/acre on average.

David Leggat at Perth thinks he could have less to let this time. “My gut feeling is that prices should be down a little, but, with extensification demands, there will probably be little change,” he said.

And in Aberdeenshire it was the same story from auctioneer Jim Mair. “Extensification puts a false value on grass and I cannot see there being much change from prices around £100/acre for decent grass,” he said.