Amount of let land set for ‘major shake-up’ post-Brexit, experts predict

The farmland market is 'full of extremes', according to Strutt & Parker, while the CAAV says let lan

The farmland market is 'full of extremes', according to Strutt & Parker, while the CAAV says let land market is at a standstill, but due for a big shake-up post-Brexit Picture: STRUTT & PARKER - Credit: Archant

Brexit is set to prompt a major shake-up in the amount of land being let in England and Wales, experts predict.

As land agents deal with a farmland market which Strutt & Parker describes as “full of extremes” as uncertainty continues over farm policy changes post-Brexit, the amount of let land is at a “virtual standstill”, a survey suggests.

But the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), which carried out the study, predicted that while the situation continued to be static in 2017, things are set to change.

Its 41st annual survey of let land showed the amount of land changing hands remained at historic low levels of 951 units in the year to October 2017, with a small net increase of 2,478 acres to a total of 73,199 acres, excluding tenancies coming up for regular renewal.

“In reality, the trend continues of a virtual standstill since 2003, when the first indications of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform were becoming apparent, and particularly since 2006 once entitlements to the Single Payment Scheme had been allocated,” said CAAV secretary and adviser Jeremy Moody.

But changes to support payments after Brexit are likely to free up considerably more land for tenanted use, he predicted.

“Land occupation – as opposed to land ownership – will change as profit-driven, well-educated farmers make the most of their assets with innovation and technology, driving improved farmgate margins and freeing up other land for alternative enterprises.”

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Meanwhile, the farmland market in England is getting tougher, despite average values rising over the first half of 2018, with prices varying from £6,800 to £15,000/acre, according to Strutt & Parker.

“Average prices have been relatively stable over the past couple of years, but it’s important to acknowledge they only reflect the land which has sold and you also need to be looking at what isn’t selling,” said head of estate and farm agency Michael Fiddes.

“Our figures show that over a third of the farms marketed in 2017 either remain available or have been withdrawn.”

But Strutt’s Giles Allen said the East Anglian region, with its large farms and estates, is outperforming the rest of the market.