Farm commodity comparison: 1952 vs 2012

In 1952 it took the value of the wheat output on 10.5 acres to pay for the best-selling tractor of the day – the 24hp Ferguson TE20, which cost £365 then. That’s at the 1952 average wheat yield of 1.2t/acre and at the wheat price in June that year of £29/t.

Today, at the national average yield of 3.2t/acre and a spot wheat price of about £168/t, it takes more than 113 acres worth of wheat to pay for a top-selling modern equivalent, for example the John Deere 6630 with 137hp and a price tag of £60,951.

Land values 1952 to 2012

The value of English farmland has risen in value by 10,745% in the past 60 years, says Knight Frank.

“When Elizabeth became queen in 1952, the average price of agricultural land in England was £56/acre,” says head of rural property research, Andrew Shirley. It is now worth £6,073/acre, according to the Knight Frank Farmland Index — just shy of the record price of £6,156 achieved in June 2011.

Values rose most quickly during the third decade of the Queen’s reign, between 1972 and 1982, at 390% and hit a record high in June 2011 at £6,156/acre.

An estimated 300,000 horses were still employed on UK farms during the 1950s.

In 1952 a 40 acre mixed farm, including house and outbuildings, could be bought for £5,000-£6,000 while a property advertised as “a Suffolk gentleman’s attested farm with 100 acres, house and cottage” was on the market for less than £10,000.
A 29 acre small, mixed farm in central Suffolk, with attractive house, was for sale at less than £4,000 and an 80-acre mixed farm in Somerset, with house cottage and milking facilities, was valued at £12,500.

 Commodity and livestock prices – 1952 and 2012   
1952 2012
Prime cattle 12.4p/kg lw 185.5p/kg lw
Cows 7.0p/kg lw 129.2p/kg lw
Lambs 29.9p/kg dw  438.2p/kg dw
Clean pigs 30.0p/kg dw 149.0p/kg dw
Potatoes £11.90/t   £128/t 
Wheat £29/t £168/t
Thanks to AHDB for help with sourcing prices.  

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