25 February 2000

More grass keep letting on cards

CHANGES to extensification rules for livestock subsidy claims are likely to take up some of the slack in grass-keep lets this season as the number of producers declines.

Auctioneers believe many graziers will err on the side of caution and look to increase the area taken either on an annual basis or farm business tenancy. That follows the introduction of new averages for stocking rate calculations and inclusion of younger stock for claims (particularly suckler cow premium).

Private let deals have already been signed at £197/ha (£80/acre) for better land, says Andrew Wallace of Beeston Castle-based Wright-Manley. "It all depends on location, but we can expect to see more being let as producers step back from farming land."

In the south west, Simon Alford of Hallworthy-based KVN Stockdale has signed FBTs at £148-£247/ha (£60-£100/acre). "Certainly the new extensification rules will help compensate for having less stock about, but grass-keep will remain sought after in this area with a predominately high proportion of rough grazing."

Auctions of grazing land will be held within the next six to eight weeks. Larger areas are likely to see lower rents than last year, says Mark Gardiner of Uttoxeter-based Bagshaws. "It is very much down to supply and demand. Better lots may be at last years level of £70-£90/acre, but poorer ground will be nearer £40/acre."