Few dairy farms have been offered for sale this year, compared with a busy market for arable farms and land.
But discussions are already under way with at least three new parties interested in what has been described as one of the best-equipped dairy units in the country. A sale was agreed at the end of June, but contracts have not yet been exchanged, and Midlands agent Howkins & Harrison has been instructed by the vendor to remarket it.
With 235 acres, just three miles from the M1 motorway, Ridgefield Farm near Loughborough in Leicestershire boasts over 78,000ft of modern buildings, two farmhouses, and high-spec dairy unit, as well as conferencing facilities and a self-contained flat. The guide price has been kept at £4m, says Howkins & Harrison’s Jeff Paybody.
The strongest demand is for well-equipped units from farmers seeking to expand, agents say. A local farmer with some development money is understood to have bought 223-acre Collum Farm, a 200-cow unit near Weston-super-Mare, to set up a member of his family. Its £1.3m price was strictly based on commercial value, given that its four-bedroom house was subject to an agricultural occupancy condition, and money would have to be spent on upgrading its timber cow accommodation to modern cubicles.
“The land worked out at £5000/acre,” said selling agent Hugh Townsend, of Townsend Chartered Surveyors, adding that he was strongly optimistic about the future for the dairy industry. “The important thing here was that there was minimum residential or amenity value tied up in it. Everything spent on it will go to producing milk – and I believe we will see strong demand for fresh milk return as the decline in national production, combined with the rising cost of imports, will ultimately act as a wake-up call to retailers.”
“I think there is still a premium for good buildings and a ring fence,” says David Cross of Savills, which is looking for offers based on £4.75m for 583-acre Walk Farm at Witham Friary, near Frome, Somerset. It is the only sizeable dairy farm that has been offered by the firm in the region this year, and possesses both those attributes. “People are tending to hang on to good dairy farms, as so much investment is needed for lesser quality holdings to bring them up to necessary standards.”