12 April 2002

Cumbria still wants acres

CUMBRIAN farmers, despite suffering 44% of the cases of foot-and-mouth, are still in the market for more land, backing up a recent report from Newcastle University that suggests very few are likely to leave the industry.

Local firm Hopes of Wigton has already sold five farms by auction this year. All of them have exceeded their guide prices and all have gone to farmers.

Some pundits have put this down to the availability of F&M compensation money, but the firms managing director, Andrew Wright, says this is not the sole reason.

"Many of the farms in the area are quite small, so farmers have decided they need the extra land to remain viable. Both beef and dairy herds are expanding."

The latest holding to go under the hammer was Hudbeck, a 183-acre mixed farm near Raughton Head. Guided at £470,000, the price was pushed to £505,000 by a neighbouring farmer.

However, Julia Aglionby, of fellow Cumbrian agent H&H Bowe, says location is still very important. "People need to be realistic when putting a farm on the market unless it has non-farming attributes. Guide prices at the moment are in many cases no more than six or seven years ago."

Mrs Aglionby has just launched a 415-acre dairy farm near Carlisle with a price tag of in excess of £1.2m. She reckons that Saughtreegate, Cumrew, near Carlisle, could appeal to a farmer with F&M compensation looking to upgrade. "These days you need to be milking in the order of 150 cows to be profitable."

Unless sold previously the farm, which features a four-bedroomed house, will be auctioned on Apr 29. &#42