By FWi staff

FOOT-AND-MOUTH has led to the cancellation or delay of many spring grasskeep auctions, leaving farmers in the dark as to current market values.

Across the country however, strong demand means most auctioneers conducting private deals report rents broadly in line with those achieved last year.

David James & Partners has let 2500 acres of grazing by private treaty in north Somerset.

“About 75% of the land has gone for the same price as last year – about 66/acre unfertilised – but, because of movement restrictions, land adjoining a farmers boundaries can command a 10-15% premium.”

In Devon, Stags has cancelled all its auctions but Richard Stagg says he has a long list of clients looking for keep.

“All our deals have been done by private treaty, often to last years applicants.”

Prices are similar to 2000, although the top end has come back slightly. Unfertilised grass is going for 60-70/acre, while fertilised keep is making 60-90/acre.

Richard Brown, of West Midlands firm Bagshaws, says demand has been as good as ever. Rents are being agreed privately at 50-80/acre.

But the situation is far more uncertain in Cumbria, according to William Bashall, head of farm agency at Penrith Farmers and Kidds.

“There is still demand for neighbouring land, which can make 70/acre.”

He estimates the average cost of keep is 65/acre compared with last year, when it was making about 110/acre.

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