7 November 1997

Sheep quota down

SHEEP quota prices are on the floor, with demand in the doldrums.

GB lowland samples are changing hands for about £1 and £6 for lease and sale respectively. And while the market is set to become busier as the Feb 4 deadline for trading approaches, few are predicting any rise in values.

James Sheppard of Townsend says farmers are holding off, expecting values to drop. More, too, are preferring the flexibility of operating outside the quota and premium system with its compulsory retention period.

While the sheep industry is buoyant compared with the arable and beef sectors, theres still a reluctance to pay for quota now – when the final premium payment wont be received for nearly 18 months, says Mr Sheppard.

Quota could get cheaper – but theres unlikely to be any repeat of last year, when some farmers were giving it away, he says.

"In some cases, lessors were paying lessees to take it off them so they satisfied the usage requirement and didnt lose it."

Caroline Carr of Ian Potter Associates says its currently a buyers market. "But there doesnt seem to be anyone who wants to acquire it at the moment."

Even if demand increases, lowland quota is unlikely to increase much in value, says Mrs Carr.